Biggest birthday card ever as Dame Vera is beamed on to her White Cliffs of Dover
On the day the wartime forces’ sweetheart turns 100, her image has been projected on to the cliffs, 350ft high.
The landmark - the last sight of Britain for soldiers heading off to war and the first for those who returned - was immortalised by Dame Vera in a song that evokes the spirit of 1940s Britain even in people too young to remember.
She said on the BBC Radio 2 Chris Evans Show: “When I look on my mantelpiece and see these cards wishing me a happy 100th birthday I can’t believe it, but there you are, time marches on.
“And this is what I have got up there on my mantelpiece, to remind me of how old I am.”
Remembering the early days of her career, she laughed: “I remember very clearly, when I first sang to the boys, I was just told to go on a stage dressed in a pretty dress and sing a song, which I did.
“The people wanted an encore so I would go off, take that dress off, and put another one on to go back to sing a second song.
“They don’t do anything like that now, change their dress for each song they sang.”
Asked if she had any advice on getting older, Dame Vera, who made her stage debut at the age of seven, offered: “Be active to your full capabilities, keep interested, read books, watch television and try and keep in touch with life and what people are doing, seeing and enjoying.”
Talking about her work to entertain the troops and boost morale, she said: “It was wonderful to be able to do something in those times” and she added: “I’m glad it helped them to hold on to home.”
Her image on the cliffside was commissioned to mark her centenary and the release of her new album, Vera Lynn 100, which features re-orchestrated versions of her most beloved music alongside her original vocals.
Sir Patrick Stewart was among those paying tribute to Dame Vera, admitting that her music still makes him cry.
The star, 76, said he was proud to be her fan.
Speaking at the Empire Awards in north London on Sunday, where he was honoured for his film and television work, Sir Patrick said: “The other day I was in the car and I suddenly found myself singing The White Cliffs Of Dover, and I began to cry.
“My wife said ‘What’s wrong with you?’ and I couldn’t begin to explain, because there’s too much history.
“Dame Vera has been in my life since I was a child, I was born in 1940 and her music, her singing and what she meant to the British during the darkest, darkest days of the Second World War was so important.”
It was during her early 20s that Dame Vera earned herself the title of forces’ sweetheart as she travelled long distances, often at great personal risk, to entertain troops and provide them with messages of hope.