Dame Vera Lynn: White Cliffs memorial gets government backing

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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

A campaign for a memorial to Forces' Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn has been given government support.

Three sites on Dover's White Cliffs have been proposed for the £1.5m memorial overlooking the English Channel.

Fundraising is due to begin on 18 June, on the first anniversary of Dame Vera's death at the age of 103.

Culture minister Matt Warman told MPs he "looks forward" to the day when a statue is in place.

Mr Warman said it was "not normal practice" for central government to fund new memorials but he highlighted the work of organisations in delivering such monuments.

He said he could think of "few more fitting recipients" of such support.

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

Southend West Conservative MP Sir David Amess, a friend of Dame Vera's family, led an adjournment debate in the House of Commons calling for the project to go ahead.

Mr Warman pointed out that Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden was "as much as a fan" as Sir David of "the great Dame Vera".

"I wish [Sir David] and all those involved the deepest, best wishes in their efforts to raise funds for this commemoration to Dame Vera.

"It sounds like an ambitious and transformative proposal for the south coast, truly befitting Dame Vera."

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

The National Trust site in the North Downs is immortalised in one of Dame Vera's most famous songs, The White Cliffs Of Dover.

The singer, who lived in Ditchling in East Sussex and whose songs helped 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.

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