When considering this week’s Story Starter, I’ve been thinking about Dame Vera Lynn, who has passed away at the age of 103.
She was an inspiring lady.
Born Vera Margaret Welch in 1917 in the London suburb of East Ham, she was the daughter of Bertram, a plumber, and Annie, a dressmaker.
She began singing and was performing in clubs by the age of seven, leaving school at 11 to begin a full-time career as a performer.
Despite being rejected by one singing coach because she didn’t have a “natural voice”, Vera carried on, adopting her grandmother’s maiden name — Lynn — as her stage name, and selling more than a million records by the age of 22.
With the coming of World War II in 1939, Vera was voted the Forces’ Sweetheart, and sang the song that would become hers — “We’ll Meet Again”.
With its message of hopefulness and courage, it struck a chord with both servicemen abroad and families at home.
Vera’s contribution to the war effort included singing to people who were sheltering in London’s underground tube stations during air raids. She was given her own radio programme, “Sincerely Yours:, which sent messages to troops abroad. She would also go on to perform for troops in Egypt, India and Burma, keeping a diary throughout.
In 1995, Vera helped celebrate the 50th Anniversary of VE Day at Buckingham Palace.
Just a few weeks ago, Vera became the oldest artist to have a top 40 album in the UK.
Exemplified the spirit of the 20th century
Voted the Briton who best exemplified the spirit of the 20th century, Vera became a Dame in 1976.
HRH The Queen referenced wartime spirit during her address to the nation at the onset of the current health emergency:
“While we may still have more to endure, better days will return. We will be with our friends again, we will be with our families again. We will meet again.”
Vera was an inspiration. Might her legacy inspire your writing this week?
An East-ender. A symbol of hope, and of inspiration. Keeping spirits up.
Never giving up. Great Britons. Blitz spirit. The power of music, to give comfort.
The Forces, in the Far East during the War. Concert parties. Contact with loved ones at home.
Keeping a diary. Inspiring women. Age being no object.
We’ll meet again.
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