There were bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover for Dame Vera Lynn as she celebrated her 99th birthday in Ditchling at the weekend.
Sussex baker, Mia Taggart, was invited to create a cake for the woman who immortalised the south coast in song and seared the picture of Blighty on the hearts of thousands of troops listening to Armed Forces Radio.
The ‘Forces Sweetheart’, who is nine years older than the Queen and was a close friend and favourite of the Queen Mother, chose to mark her 99th year with a small, private gathering at her home in Ditchling.
In Billingshurst, the families of infants with cerebral palsy, who have been helped by the Dame Vera Children’s Charity, shared in the celebration with special Dame Vera cupcakes, also baked by Ms Taggart.
A former nutritionist who taught herself sugar craft, Ms Taggart’s previous celebrity bakes have included the entire Strictly Come Dancing judging panel moulded in sugar for Zoe Ball.
“Dame Vera is so strongly associated with the White Cliffs of Dover that once I had the image in my mind, nothing else would do,” said Ms Taggart, who specialises in creating one-off designs at her kitchen in Burgess Hill.
“Even though Dame Vera isn’t of my generation, everyone knows her and it was just such a huge privilege to be asked to create a surprise cake for her birthday.
“For me, it’s one of the most memorable and it’s definitely the one my grandmother and mum are most proud of.”
St Peter & St James Hospice also announced Dame Vera Lynn’s new position as Honorary President to coincide with her birthday.
Having been a strong supporter of the Hospice for many years, Dame Vera has seen many changes and improvements. Back in 1995, she officially opened the Day Centre and, more recently, was involved in the celebrations when Beacon View Wellbeing Centre opened in 2014. Her daughter, Virginia, has been a keen volunteer at the Hospice for a number of years, providing care to many patients.
Dame Vera Lynn said: “I have been associated with St Peter & St James for many happy years, and I am so glad the charity continues to do such good work. I shall raise a glass at my birthday tea to all those that work there, including the volunteers.”
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