Households across Yorkshire are being urged to put up bunting and raise a glass as part of the Nation’s Toast at 3pm on Friday to celebrate the heroes of the war.
Despite the coronavirus lockdown measures which mean public events are cancelled, pageantmaster Bruno Peek said he wanted to mark the occasion across the country and around the world as it would be the last time many veterans could participate.
He told The Yorkshire Post that he was disappointed that many of the events, which were 18 months in the planning, have been cancelled, but is determined that a celebration should go ahead.
He said: “In a way, what’s happened has opened up the Nation’s Toast to everyone. At 3pm, everyone in the country, from the safety of their homes, can stand, raise a glass or a cup and say thank you to the millions of people who made sacrifices during the Second World War.”
While VE Day celebrations often focus on the sacrifice of those who fought in the war, the Nation’s Toast is also about the work of those who stayed at home and contributed to the war effort.
The anniversary event is aimed at recognising the efforts of farmers and women who held families together during the conflict while also doing often difficult, dangerous jobs.
The VE Day’s event patron and award-winning actress, Dame Joan Collins, said: “We must never forget the selflessness of all those who sacrificed so much to keep us free during the Second World War.
“This is why I immediately joined up to support The Nation’s Toast.
“This meaningful gesture recognises the importance of not only the brave veterans who fought on the front lines but also the courageous women who put their lives on the line for this nation’s struggle.
“I remember clearly coming home one morning, after spending the night in the Marble Arch underground during a particularly vicious raid, to find our block of flats had entirely
disappeared and in its place, a pile of rubble.
“I stared at the faces of the ARP rescue parties, their faces drawn and soot covered, who had dug frantically all night long for survivors while I, as a child, could only think about the fate of my favourite doll who I’d left behind.”
Mr Peek added that musicians originally booked to perform in public events, including 1,000 bagpipers, will continue to play at home and in public spaces, but without an audience due to the lockdown.