Merton Council is encouraging residents to get involved with VE Day celebrations and commemorations from the safety of their homes. Homemade bunting has already started to appear in windows around the borough, and the local authority is also asking younger residents to make and decorate a dove of peace to display outside their homes. Additionally, the council’s Heritage Service has produced a range of online activities and puzzles for families to have fun whilst learning about wartime Britain.
VE Day, on Friday 8 May, marks 75 years since fighting stopped in Europe at the end of World War II. Although fighting continued in Asia, it was a time when people in Merton and across the country could celebrate peace and the end of air raids over the UK. To mark the occasion, the Government has moved the early May bank holiday to this Friday. There had also been plans for street parties, similar to those held in 1945, and other national events to both celebrate peace as well as mourn all those that died in the war. However these have had to be postponed as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead of holding street parties, the council is calling on residents to both celebrate and commemorate the occasion from home. To help do this, there are a number of family-friendly activities and resources available on the Merton Heritage Service website, including:
- templates for you and your family to design your own doves of peace
- puzzles and heritage trails for you to follow
- ration book recipes such as carrot fudge, potato piglets and date pudding
- photographic displays, including a collection of images of the borough during World War II
- reminiscence materials
- wartime film footage with a soundtrack voiced by local people
Elsewhere, the council has made a template for homemade bunting available.
Residents can also share their celebration with the community through social media. Whether you’re showing off colourful bunting, a dazzling dove of peace, or a ration book recipe that you’ve rustled up, remember to tag your posts with #HeroesAtHome.
Caroline Cooper-Marbiah, Merton’s Cabinet Member for Commerce, Leisure and Culture, said: “On VE Day in 1945, the streets were filled with ecstatic crowds cheering, singing and dancing to celebrate peace, whilst also remembering the many lives that had been lost during the war. Obviously the current circumstances mean that we won’t be able to hold the same sort of celebrations this year, but there are still many ways in which Merton residents of all ages can get involved.
“From colourful and creative craft, to historical kitchen creations, our Heritage Team have come up with a wide range of ways for you to mark this important occasion. These activities will not only be a great opportunity to teach younger ones about a pivotal moment in our history, but they’ll prompt us all to reflect on the hardships of wartime, as well as the jubilance and relief that was felt when the guns fell silent.”