Dame Vera Lynn’s daughter recalls her ‘wonderful life’ during TV tribute

Dame Vera Lynn’s daughter Virginia Lewis-Jones has remembered her mother’s “wonderful life” and “fantastic career” following her death aged 103.

The Forces’ Sweetheart, who entertained troops with morale-boosting visits to the front line during the Second World War, died surrounded by her close family.

Ms Lewis-Jones paid tribute during the introduction to a special half-hour tribute programme on BBC One, featuring footage first recorded to celebrate Dame Vera’s 100th birthday.

The Oldie of the Year Awards – London
Dame Vera Lynn’s daughter Virginia Lewis-Jones (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Speaking from her home, she said: “We as a family are very sad that my mother is no longer with us and this programme is a tribute to her wonderful life and her fantastic career.

“She touched so many people’s lives and we are very, very proud of her.”

The programme, which replaced Garden Rescue on the TV schedule, featured images of Dame Vera watching home movies and footage from moments in her career, as well as interviews with famous faces including Sir Paul McCartney.

Announcing Dame Vera’s death on Thursday morning, her family said in a statement they were “deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers at the age of 103”.

They added: “Dame Vera Lynn, who lived in Ditchling, East Sussex, passed away earlier today, 18 June 2020, surrounded by her close family”.

Sir Cliff Richard, veteran fundraiser Captain Sir Tom Moore and singer Katherine Jenkins joined Prime Minister Boris Johnson in paying tribute.

Mr Johnson said her “charm and magical voice entranced and uplifted our country in some of our darkest hours. Her voice will live on to lift the hearts of generations to come”.

Dame Vera Lynn
Outside Buckingham Palace after being made a dame in 1975 (PA)

The Queen also sent a private message of condolence to Dame Vera’s family, Buckingham Palace said.

The Queen recently referenced the title of one of Dame Vera’s most beloved wartime songs when she told the country, separated from families and friends during the coronavirus lockdown: “We will meet again.”

Dame Vera was also fondly remembered for singing The White Cliffs Of Dover, There’ll Always Be An England, I’ll Be Seeing You, Wishing and If Only I Had Wings, to help raise British spirits during the Blitz.

“My songs reminded the boys of what they were really fighting for,” she once said. “Precious, personal things, rather than ideologies and theories.”

Dame Vera was born in East Ham, east London, on March 20 1917.

She performed for troops during the war, often at great personal risk, in countries including Egypt, India and Burma, and later had her own television show and toured the world.

She remained an outspoken supporter of military veterans throughout her life.

In May, ahead of the 75th anniversary of VE Day, she urged the nation to “remember the brave boys and what they sacrificed for us”.

Dame Vera added: “They left their families and homes to fight for our freedom and many lost their lives trying to protect us and our liberties.”

She also encouraged the British public to “rediscover that same spirit that saw us through the war” amid the coronavirus pandemic, in a special message before she turned 103 in March.

In May, Dame Vera became the oldest artist to score a top 40 album in the UK.

The 103-year-old saw her greatest hits album 100 re-enter the chart at number 30, boosted by commemorations for the 75th anniversary of VE Day on May 8.

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