Dozens came to celebrate Dame Vera Lynn’s 100th birthday last Friday (March 24) at a tea party in Hurstpierpoint, held by her children’s charity.
Known as the ‘forces sweetheart’, Dame Vera made the milestone last Monday.
The centenarian provided hope and reassurance for Allied troops and families during the Second World War.
After the war, she established the Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity, which helps children with cerebral palsy and other motor learning difficulties.
The charity has recently moved to Cuckfield from Five Oaks in Horsham.
Her daughter, Virginia Lewis-Jones, who lives with Dame Vera in Ditchling, helped host the tea party at Danny House in New Way Lane.
She said: “It was a wonderful afternoon. Some of our biggest and smallest sponsors came along. We are very grateful for everything people do for us.”
Susan Fleet, Dame Vera’s friend and PA, sung along to some of the centenarian’s famous wartime songs with other members of the Lee Graham Quartet.
She said: “She is an exceptional person, she is very kind, caring, compassionate, highly intelligent and she has a great sense of fun.”
Allan Woolven, 87, a concert pianist, from Horsham once accompanied Dame Vera at the Mercury FM studio in Crawley, which closed in 2010.
He said: “It was a real honour to play with her. I was quite nervous as I had to change the key on the spot for her. It was a great experience.”
Mayor of Haywards Heath Sujan Wickremaratchi came along and said the famous songwriter had done an ‘amazing job’ over the years.
MP for Horsham Jeremy Quin said the charity had ‘done a huge amount of good’.
Pilar Cloud, executive manager at the charity, praised the centenarian. She said: “Dame Vera remains a wonderful ambassador for this charity, and it is directly thanks to her efforts that the charity has been able to help over 500 families.
“We were so privileged to have been able to welcome her family with so many of our supporters and dignitaries to such a beautiful location for an afternoon of tea and song.”
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