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Prime minister urged to consider alternative VE Day celebrations by Norfolk pageantmaster

PUBLISHED: 12:26 24 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:27 24 March 2020

The Celebration and Thanksgiving Service for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee at St Andrew's Church, Gorleston. Pageantmaster Bruno Peek, organiser of the service. Picture: Denise Bradley

The Celebration and Thanksgiving Service for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee at St Andrew's Church, Gorleston. Pageantmaster Bruno Peek, organiser of the service. Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant 2012

A celebration marking the 75th anniversary of VE Day has been cancelled due to coronavirus - but the event’s organiser believes an alternative is still possible and has written a letter to the Prime Minister.

The Nation’s Toast, an initiative created by Gorleston man Bruno Peek, pageant master of VE Day 75, aims to get people in the UK involved in recognising the sacrifices made by soldiers and civilians during the Second World War.

The original plans would have seen a number of events across the country on May 8, including four pipers playing a rendition of Battle’s O’er, the traditional march played at the end of battle, from the four highest peaks in the UK.

As that is no longer possible, with the country under sweeping restrictions on socialising, Mr Peek has written a letter to prime minister Boris Johnson proposing an alternative.

A pre-recorded rendition of Battle’s O’er could be played on radio, TV and over social media channels, he wrote.

The Victory in Europe (VE) day 75 logo. Picture: VE day 75The Victory in Europe (VE) day 75 logo. Picture: VE day 75

This would be followed by a recording of the speech made by Winston Churchill announcing the end of the war in Europe, before the prime minister would invite people watching in their homes to raise a toast, paying tribute to those who at home and abroad contributed to victory in Europe.

Mr Peek - who has already overseen a number of landmark anniversaries including the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, her Diamond Jubilee and a number of World War tributes - said: “I felt it was important as a nation we say thank you to those who gave so much.

“It would give a chance for everybody in the country to get involved. It doesn’t matter what age you are, what nationality you are, what religion you are.

“The elderly in care homes could also take part. It’s so simple, because it could be so symbolic, and the world would look upon us with envy.

Sir Winston Churchill giving his familiar 'V' sign. 74 years ago the former Prime Minister declared the war with Germany was over. Picture: PA/PA WireSir Winston Churchill giving his familiar 'V' sign. 74 years ago the former Prime Minister declared the war with Germany was over. Picture: PA/PA Wire

“It’s a way of bringing families together as well.

“It could be the biggest thank you the world has ever seen, from the safety of your own home,” Mr Peek said.

He added: “There is no reason the government should say no, and no reason on earth why the prime minister cannot lead the nation in the nation’s toast, because he could do it from the safety of 10 Downing Street.

“It’s the sort of thing Winston Churchill would have done, he would lead from the front.”


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