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VE DAY: ‘Celebrate our modern-day heroes’

VE Day 75 Andover

Andover’s MP and the Leader of Test Valley Borough Council led tributes to our fallen heroes at 3:00pm today.

As part of a special three hour broadcast on 95.9FM Andover Radio, both Kit Malthouse MP and Councillor Phil North joined with archive material of Winston Churchill and King George VI from 1945 and paid tribute to wartime generations and those affected today by the devastating effects of Covid-19.

Talking of both his grandfathers who fought in the war, MP Kit Malthouse said, “Theirs was a generation which fought bravely and bore its privations and economic chaos which followed with dignity and stoicism.

“It’s the same dignity and stoicism that we must face now as a generation as we face this this terrible Covid-19 crisis.

“I hope you will reflect on the strength and courage of that generation and bring it to your own life
as you live under what remains of the lockdown, and the difficulties that will undoubtedly follow.

Mr Malthouse added that it’s important to keep the events of the past alive, “Maintaining our collective memory for future generations to ensure such a conflict never happens again.”

He concluded, “As you toast those heroes of the past, I hope you will look to the heroes of today.”

Andover Radio suspended ‘normal programming’ to look back to the music and memories of May 8th 1945. Martin Miller hosted a programme which celebrated the music of the era with songs from artists like Gracie Fields, Tommy Dorsey and of course, American band leader Glenn Miller.

Following an abridged version of the original broadcast made by Winston Churchill from Downing Street at 3:00PM seventy-five years ago, council leader Phil North of Test Valley gave a ‘Toast to the Nation’.

Cllr North’s speech is below, in full:

Today us Victory in Europe Day, which this year marks seventy five years since the allied armies reclaimed our continent to liberty.

Prior to this and to borrow the words of Ronald Reagan “Europe had been under a terrible shadow“.

Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation, Europe was enslaved and the world prayed for its rescue.

On the 8th of May 1945, that rescue was complete. Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his bunker in the early in the week earlier and the act of military surrender was signed in Reims. Although in Eastern Europe the horrors of national socialism gave way to another murderous tyranny, western Europe was free.

How ironic then that we can’t celebrate that hard won freedom like they did in 1945 with mass gatherings street parties and the lighting of beacons.

But our current predicament doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t celebrate the heroes of World War Two.

Indeed, just as we’ve been celebrating our modern day heroes but coming out of our houses and clapping every Thursday evening. We can all take part in today’s commemorations from the comfort of our own homes.

As the queen said in her recent broadcast: ‘The pride in who we are is not just part of our past, it defines our present, and our future.’

And the response to the current coronavirus crisis typifies that pride, whether it’s our brave doctors and nurses on the frontline, our carers camping in retirement homes to ensure they remain Covid-free zones. Community groups and parishes across Test Valley collecting prescriptions, doing shopping or running errands on behalf of vulnerable people. Our keyworkers keeping our supply chains going and our shop workers ensuring there is food on the shelves or simply by all of us staying in, and saving lives.

We are making progress in our national battle against coronavirus but only because we all forming a human shield around the NHS by observing the rules on social distancing and protecting the most vulnerable from needing to go out.

And although we seem to have passed the peak, this is the moment of maximum risk.

So, lets all follow the advice, stay at home protect the NHS and save lives or as Winston Churchill would have said during the second World War ‘keep buggering on‘.

But today we stop, reflect, and thank those heroes of World War Two.

So, I’d be grateful if you could also join me in the toast to the nation, and the toast is:

“To those who gave so much, we thank you.”


About the author

David Harber

David Harber is the founder and Managing Director of Love Andover, including the Love Andover Observer newspaper and 95.9FM Andover Radio. He is a fellow at the Royal Society of Arts and a card carrying member of the Nation Union of Journalists.