White Cliffs sites considered for Dame Vera Lynn statue

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image copyrightReuters
image captionA memorial is planned for the White Cliffs that were immortalised in one of Dame Vera's most famous songs

Three sites on Dover's iconic White Cliffs are being considered for a memorial to the Forces' Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn, who died last year.

Dame Vera's daughter has visited the cliffs overlooking the English Channel as plans for the £1.5m memorial to her mother gather pace.

Fundraising is due to begin in June, on the anniversary of Dame Vera's death.

Dover MP Natalie Elphicke said a performing arts centre was also being considered as part of the plan.

Dame Vera, who lived in Ditchling, East Sussex, died at the age of 103. Her funeral was marked by a Spitfire flypast and tributes from across the world.

The singer, whose songs helped to raise morale in World War Two, was best known for performing hits such as We'll Meet Again to the troops.

It was a role that continued during coronavirus lockdown as she compared challenges faced in the pandemic to the darkest of times in World War Two - and used her birthday and VE Day to give messages of hope.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionDame Vera, seen here with the troops in 1942, released We'll Meet Again in 1939

Ms Elphicke said no decisions had yet been taken on location for the statue, but the sites earmarked on the Kent cliffs were the Western Heights Bowl, St Martins Battery and the Citadel.

Dame Vera's daughter Virginia Lewis-Jones, family friend Sir David Amess and Ms Elphicke met Dover council representatives on Tuesday.

Ms Lewis-Jones said just having the memorial on the cliff tops would be "amazing".

"It's synonymous with mummy, you know - apart from the song of course, which is known worldwide... It's the one place she should be.

"She always said it [the White Cliffs] was the last thing the chaps saw when they went out on the boat or plane, and it was the first thing they saw when they came back - so consequently it was very important."

image captionDame Vera Lynn's daughter Virginia Lewis-Jones has visited the cliffs in the hunt for a suitable site

A promotional video for the memorial, unveiled last month, included messages of support from celebrities including Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Tim Rice and Katherine Jenkins.

image copyrightPA Media
image captionThe London-born plumber's daughter was told the best thing she could do during World War Two was be an entertainer

Former Beatle Sir Paul, writing to Ms Lewis-Jones said: "Dear Ginny, I think it is a great idea to have a statue put up on the White Cliffs of Dover so your lovely mum, Vera Lynn, can welcome people forever."

Jenkins, who described the late star as a "beacon of hope", said: "I think it would only be appropriate that we are reminded of all that she did."

image copyrightPA Media
image captionDame Vera helped raise morale during World War Two - and sent out messages of hope during the pandemic

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