Herald Column: May 7

This week I was asked by a Southwick primary school pupil a series of questions for a school project. The first question mentioned that her school was having a ‘good news’ themed week and asked me for any examples of good news in Adur. Amidst all the gloom of the Coronavirus crisis it was actually a challenging question.

A general response would be the many acts of generosity and community spirit that we have seen across the district in recent weeks, from people running errands for vulnerable neighbours to people falling over themselves to bake cakes and produce gifts for our heroic NHS and care staff. In the end I pointed to the big improvement in air quality we have seen in some of our pollution hotspots where traffic has fallen by as much as 80%.  When all this is over it would be good to see if we can make some of the environmental upsides of the lockdown sustainable, and who best to lead the push for this than our youngest generation.

One piece of good news that we will be celebrating in a very different way is the 75th anniversary of VE Day tomorrow. In Adur and Worthing we are particularly good at celebrating great anniversaries and royal events. The local British Legion had planned a cornucopia of commemorative activities across the district only to see all their hard work bitterly dashed by Coronavirus. Instead there will be many housebound celebrations and I will be happy to publish photos of any on my social media platforms using the hashtag #VEDAY75Adur/WorthingSalutesYou

Nationally, the commemorations have had to be drastically rejigged too. After the two minutes silence at 11am with reflections from the Archbishop of Canterbury there will be broadcasts of Churchill’s VE Day speech, followed by Prince Charles reading an extract from his grandfather King George vi’s diary from May 8th, 1945. Finally, the Queen will address the nation and I wonder if she will repeat the 24 million viewers she attracted for her recent Coronavirus broadcast.

Alongside this there will be interviews with veterans and the recently recruited NHS Volunteer Responders will also be redeployed to call a number of Second World War veterans to thank them and hear their stories. I hope that includes Shoreham hero William Earl, a veteran of the gruelling Italian campaign and about to celebrate his own 105th birthday on May 12th. He is always a pleasure to listen to and his biography by Liz Coward, ‘Blood and Bandages’ is a fascinating read.

Elsewhere, there will be a national singalong of Sussex resident Dame Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’ and there are plenty of things for children to download and display including bunting and posters from the toolkit on https://ve-vjday75.gov.uk Happy VE Day everybody and let’s hope it’s not long before we can invent a Happy Victory against Coronavirus (VC) Day too.