Wedding dress laughs and Sunday roasts: Villagers’ amusing memories of Vera Lynn

Friends of Dame Vera Lynn have recalled lighthearted moments from her time in her beloved village of Ditchling, East Sussex.

One described how her local pub came to name a dish after the Forces Sweetheart, while another recalled a humorous moment with the national treasure while wearing her wedding dress.

Jane Lantsbury, 67, and Deborah Chapman, 53, were both in the village to pay their respects to her and spoke to the PA news agency on Friday.

They were among hundreds of mourners lining the streets to see the arrival of the funeral cortege, as well as the stunning Battle of Britain Memorial flypast.

Vera Lynn funeral
The funeral cortege of Dame Vera Lynn is escorted by representatives of the three armed forces through the village of Ditchling (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Ms Lantsbury, who has lived in the village since she was born, remembered eating Sunday lunch with Dame Vera many times in the local pub.

She told PA: “She was the first to have a big Yorkshire pudding with all the roast inside. She kind of invented that.

“They called it the Vera Lynn.”

Ms Lantsbury also recalled the aftermath of a big storm 33 years ago.

She said: “I lived just north of Vera.

“The morning after that great storm of ’87, there she was in a khaki boiler suit and red woolly hat.

“And so we helped her move trees to get out.”

Vera Lynn funeral
Two Spitfires pass overhead as the funeral cortege of Dame Vera Lynn pauses in Ditchling (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Ms Chapman, who also grew up in Ditchling, recalled an amusing moment with the Forces Sweetheart in 1997.

She said: “I got married and a friend of ours had a house not far from Vera’s and offered us a room on our wedding night.

“(The next morning) I realised somebody had taken my overnight bag so I had to put my wedding dress on to go home.”

As Ms Chapman exited the house, she ran into Dame Vera, who started to laugh.

Ms Chapman said: “She couldn’t stop laughing because she thought I was in fancy dress.”

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