Captain Tom’s local pub to kick off nationwide VE Day toast to veterans

Captain Tom Moore’s local pub will be kicking off a nationwide toast to veterans on Friday, to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

The 100-year-old Second World War veteran has captured the hearts of the nation and raised more than £32 million for the NHS.

At 3pm on Friday, publicans up and down the country will ring their pub bells and raise a glass in honour of war veterans – with Captain Tom’s local in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire, kicking things off.

Publican Karl Clark, who runs The Bell in the village, said: “Captain Tom has become a national hero for his recent sponsored walk but we want to make sure we also recognise his achievements during WWII and raise a glass to him and his fellow veterans.”

The British Beer & Pub Association has called on its members, who represent more than 20,000 pubs and 90% of the beer brewed in Britain, to join the celebrations virtually.

It comes at a time when the nationwide shutdown of pubs to prevent the spread of Covid-19 has severely hampered the ability of pubs to play their traditional leading role as community hubs.

Despite the challenges, publicans across the country are determined to show their support and enable their local communities to find other ways to commemorate VE Day.

Publican Mark Dawson, from The Ship in Langstone, Portsmouth, will be delivering bottles of beer to his neighbours so they can still enjoy a toast from their driveways.

He said: “We couldn’t let this historic day pass without acknowledgement.

“Just like we clap for today’s heroes every Thursday, it’s vital we recognise the heroes of our history. Even though our original plans aren’t possible now, this will be our way of raising a glass and saying thank you to our veterans.”

John Locke, landlord of The Two Tubs in Bury, said he will not be deterred by the lockdown and plans to lead a socially-distanced toast with Old Fusilier groups outside his pub.

He said: “As our pub is heavily associated with the local Lancashire Fusiliers, we feel it’s our duty to honour war veterans.

“While the lockdown can physically keep us apart, we can still find a safe way to honour war heroes of the past. Even our local MP, James Daly, will be joining the celebrations to give it a real sense of occasion.”