Celebrating Dame Vera Lynn

Charlotte Harding asks Dame Vera Lynn about her life in the month she celebrates her 100th birthday.

Dame Vera Lynn is releasing an album to mark her 100th birthday
Dame Vera Lynn is releasing an album to mark her 100th birthday

With a career spanning decades Dame Vera Lynn admits there is nothing she would change about it.

“I feel very fortunate to have had longevity in a business not know for its security,” she says.

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“I am very grateful to have worked with some musical legends such as Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Tallulah Bankhead, Charles Anzanour and Florence Desmond to name just a few.”

Dame Vera Lynn in 2017

Turning 100 on March 20 Dame Vera admits that the things she has been most proud of in her career are the titles she has been awarded.

“Especially Sweetheart of the Forces,” the Ditchling resident smiles.

“I am also very pleased that I have been able to support some incredibly worthy (Sussex) causes over the years particularly serviceman charities, and locally St Peter and St James hospice, The Bluebell Railway, Princess Royal Hospital and several others.”

To celebrate the milestone birthday Dame Vera will be enjoying a family tea party at her home in Ditchling.

“I have to say that I have really enjoyed the community spirit of living in this part of Sussex and helping good causes,” enthuses Dame Vera.

“There is a very good sense of community here in Ditchling and I fondly remember the wonderful garden parties and fetes on the village green next to the church.

“Everybody in the village came together, there were local jams and fresh produce for sale, lovely old books, local musicians, bunting and great camaraderie among the residents.”

On a larger scale there will also be a celebration at the London Palladium called 100: A Tribute to Dame Vera Lynn, honouring her centenary year.

The line up for the show already includes Blake, Hayley Westenra, Alexander Armstrong, Alan Titchmarsh, Sir Tim Rice, Una Stubbs and Russell Watson.

“I am delighted to learn about the concert,” says Dame Vera.

“I am sure it will be a wonderful evening and many of my dear friends from the business will be performing.

“The Palladium holds very special memories for me and I am thrilled that the Royal Air Force Dance Orchestra - The Squadronaires - will be there as my late husband was a founding member.

“Unfortunately I will not be able to attend but I am greatly looking forward to watching a video of it shortly afterwards, and I am delighted that the processed are going to the children’s charity.”

Dame Vera is also set to break all records this year as she becomes the first singer in history to release a new album at the age of 100.

Her forthcoming album ‘Vera Lynn 100’ will be released on March 17, and will feature Dame Vera’s original vocals set to completely new re-orchestrated versions of her most beloved songs.

“It’s truly humbling that people still enjoy these songs from so many years ago,” Dame Vera comments.

“Reliving the emotions of that time, I was after all doing my ‘job’ as a singer, and it’s so wonderful for me to hear my songs again so beautifully presented in a completely new way.”

The album also features her version of ‘Sailing’ a surprise as it was not generally known that she had even recorded the song.

Asked how it feels to reach her 100th year Dame Vera answers: “Old. Old in body but young in spirit.”

100: A Tribute to Dame Vera Lynn is being held at the London Palladium on March 18.

Tickets are on sale now priced from £50 and available from www.seetickets.com/show/100-a-tribute-to-dame-vera-lynn/pal/2/5169

This first appeared in the March edition of etc Magazine, get your copy now.