Neighbours rally to mark 75th anniversary of VE Day

Residents in the Wetherby area turned out in style to observe social distancing commemorations to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day last Friday.

Monday, 11th May 2020, 2:40 pm
8th May 2020 VE Day Wetherby Street party on Lacy Grove Wetherby Pictured Tom and Elaine Smith with neighbours Maureene and Henry Gaddas Picture Gerard Binks

Bunting adorned buildings and gardens from streets to care homes, with residents enjoying music to homemade cakes and more.

Among the many marking the occasion was Royal British Legion Wetherby Branch chairman and councillor Major (retd) Tom Smith MBE.

As part of the Welcome to Wetherby VE committee, Tom, who served 32 years in the Royal Signals in places such as Afghanistan, Bosnia and Sierra Leone, had been helping to plan events since last autumn.

8th May 2020 VE Day Wetherby Street party Main Street Bickerton, Wetherby Pictured artist Julie McCready and her garden displays in Bickerton Picture Gerard Binks

“Our commemoration would have run from Friday to Sunday doing various events around the town,” said Coun Smith.

“The big night would have been Proms in the Park on The Ings on the Saturday night.

“As a committee we hope to do it all again in may next year (VE+1) if all restrictions are lifted.”

But all was not lost this year as Tom’s wife Elaine took the initiative to rally the troops in their neighbourhood of Lacy Grove, Wetherby.

8th May 2020 VE Day Wetherby Street party Main Street Bickerton, Wetherby Pictured Garden displays in Bickerton Picture Gerard Binks

“Intially my wife, having seen the initiative on social media, printed off the posters and posted them to the neighbours with timings etc.

“On the Thursday the Grove residents decorated their respective properties.”

On the day householders observed the two-minutes silence in their gardens at 11am and later enjoyed picnics and listened to music from the World War Two era.

Coun Smith, 57, added: “To cap off our day our neighbour - Eddie Leach, 93, who parachuted in on D-day and was in a German POW camp at the end of the war - popped up to say hello and brought a bottle for a toast. We of course all toasted Eddie.”

8th May 2020 VE Day Wetherby Street party Main Street Bickerton, Wetherby Pictured Garden displays in Bickerton Picture Gerard Binks

“I felt proud of everyone who took part and the effort they all put in decorating their properties.

“It was great to see our resident postie’s kev and Ali enjoying a break as they have been flat out at work keeping our mail coming.”

Down the road in Bickerton, textile artist Julie McCready had called on villagers to celebrate the occasion at their homes.

“What an amazing day! I didn’t stop talking all day!

“The Over the Garden Wall Gallery was a huge success with a regular stream of people stopping by to look and chat about my work and also the village in general.

“There was an overwhelming feeling of community coming together. People came out and made time for each other.

“I heard so many people introducing themselves for the first time, explaining which house they lived in and how long they had been there. The day had a flavour of times gone by.”

Staff from a Wetherby Manor care home organised a party for their older residents to mark VE Day.

The team at Anchor’s St James Street-based home dressed in red, white and blue and decorated the home, as well as hosting a sing-a-long.

Judith Scurr, Manager of Wetherby Manor, said: “It is important to honour and remember all those who fought in previous wars as a way to thank them for their courage.

8th May 2020 VE Day Wetherby Street party on Lacy Grove Wetherby Pictured Tom and Elaine Smith with neighbours Maureene and Henry Gaddas and Rhona Rowsby Picture Gerard Binks
8th May 2020 VE Day Wetherby Street party Main Street Bickerton, Wetherby Pictured artist Julie McCready and husband Wayne enjoy their garden party Picture Gerard Binks
8th May 2020 VE Day Wetherby Street party Main Street Bickerton, Wetherby Pictured artist Julie McCready and her garden displays in Bickerton Picture Gerard Binks