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Lockdown doesn't stop VE Day celebrations across Black Country and Staffordshire

By Harriet Evans | Cannock | News | Published:

Streets across the region have turned red, white and blue today with Union Jacks proudly unfurled alongside the many rainbow tributes.

Cj Lloyd, 12, from Heath Hayes is leading VE Day celebrations in his street

Despite being in lockdown, communities across the Black Country and Staffordshire have been determined to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

While last night we were once again clapping for the heroes of the coronavirus battle, many are today hosting parties on front lawns and driveways, raising a glass or at least a good old British cup of tea to the heroes of the Second World War.

The pandemic has restricted people from hosting large street parties or social events – as originally would have been organised – but locals are still finding a way to celebrate.

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And one kind boy from Cannock is leading the way for his community’s VE Day festivities.

Cj Lloyd, aged 12, from Heath Hayes, has been saving his pocket money up for the past three weeks to purchase 100 Union Jack flags to hand out to his neighbours to mark the special anniversary.

The youngster, who normally attends Kingsmead High School in Hednesford, has posted a flag through the letter boxes of residents of Lyndhurst Road in a bid to spread some cheer.

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Slavica Onions, Cj’s mum who is a carer for her husband Andrew, said: “My husband is disabled and Cj got him a flag first of all to celebrate and he saw how happy it made him, so wanted to do something for the people in our street.

“We have already been and given the flags to our neighbours and they have said how happy it has made them already.”

The family have also decorated the front of their home with a giant Union Jack flag – and plan to have a picnic and listen to music in the front garden, along with some of their neighbours.

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A group of Black Country ballroom dancers have created an online tribute to coincide with VE Day and raise money for the Beacon Centre.

The group called the Victory Belles are all members of Wolverhampton-based Zig Zag Dance Factory and range from 17 to 70 years old.

The dedicated dance group previously attended classes at Beacon Centre for the Blind in Sedgley, a charity that supports people with sight loss in the local area

Watch the video here:

Due to lockdown, the centre is losing thousands every week in income from having to cancel fundraising events.

When they heard the Centre was struggling with funding they quickstepped into action and created an online appeal to raise additional funds.

Sharon Lewis, Choreographer, said: “We couldn't resist putting a tribute together for the VE Day 75th Anniversary and when we heard that the Beacon Centre were in trouble due to the coronavirus pandemic, it felt like the perfect opportunity to try and help them at this difficult time.

"It was tricky doing a dance routine with people in 13 different locations but lots and lots of fun and for a very worthwhile cause."

Celebrate - but please stay at home

Council, police and health chiefs have all urged people to stay at home and protect the NHS on the anniversary of VE Day, which marks the surrender of German troops to allied forces in 1945.

This year it is also a bank holiday.

The Royal British Legion is taking the celebrations online this year, with live streams, online sing-alongs and teaching packs for youngsters.

Councillor David Stanley, the Mayor of Dudley, said: “Although we may not be able to celebrate in the style or with the people that we had originally planned, I feel that the stay at home street party truly embraces the spirit of the Second World War.

Many more people now have a greater appreciation for the struggles that people during that time would have endured.

Sally Bourner, Chief Superintendent of Dudley Police added: “We want people to be able to celebrate VE Day – but we want them to do it safely.

“We know that many residents are planning to mark the day by staying at home and in their own front garden as part of the Royal British Legion Campaign.”

Mick Price and son Richard Price with their 1943 Scammell Pioneer

Elsewhere, in Wolverhampton, 68-year-old Mick Price will be parking his 1943 truck outside his home in Goldthorn Hill to mark the occasion.

Mr Price had planned to take part in the national commemorations in London – until lockdown prevented it.

However that won’t stop him from showing his appreciation for Britain’s war veterans.

He parked his Scammell truck on proud display on his driveway as a mark of respect.

Mr Price’s father, Derek Price, took part in the D-Day landings on Sword Beach.

Mick said: “I grew up with that generation that fought and served in the war.

“They were amazing. They were my mentors. I have never forgotten their modesty.”

Harriet Evans

By Harriet Evans
Community Reporter - @HarrietEvans_ES

Community Reporter at the Express & Star, covering the issues affecting young people across the Black Country and Staffordshire. Contact me at harriet.evans@expressandstar.co.uk

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