Region joins VE day celebrations

THOUSANDS of people across the region joined celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.While those who had lost their lives during the war were remembered in yesterday's events, thoughts were also with the victims of Thursday's terrorist bombings in London.

THOUSANDS of people across the region joined celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

While those who had lost their lives during the war were remembered in yesterday's events, thoughts were also with the victims of Thursday's terrorist bombings in London.

Graham Osborne, 74, from Somersham, who attended the celebrations in Stowmarket, said: "I think it was given an extra poignancy because of the inhumane and disgraceful events of Thursday. There was certainly an air of defiance."

The day-long programme of events in the town, including a drumhead service, was given great support by residents and visitors, who flocked to the town centre in glorious sunshine.


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"I thought it was a lovely service and very nostalgic. We had a great turnout and it's good to see so many people," added Mr Osborne, who served with the Royal Engineers in 1949

Ron Barnes, 82, from Stowmarket, who served with the Welsh Guards between 1941 and 1953, said: "I'm not sure how many people we have got here today but there's certainly hundreds and of all ages.

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"I'm sure the events on Thursday in London have had an effect and I wouldn't be surprised if more people have come along because of the bombings and to pay their respects."

The proceedings started at 11am with a military parade led by the Centenary Band of the Boys Brigade.

Young and old joined together and waved their Union Jacks with pride as the procession made its way from Milton Road down Ipswich Street and culminated in a drumhead service in the Market Place.

The vicar of Stowmarket, Rev Michael Eden, then said a few words before leading the crowd, many of which were dressed in full military uniform and decked out in their medals, into a minute's silence.

The service ended with a rendition of the National Anthem and mayor of Stowmarket Lesley Mayes was on hand to officially start the afternoon's 1940s style activities.

Sponsored by Stowmarket Town Council and Suffolk County Council, the rest of the day had a carnival atmosphere with period fairground attractions, street entertainers, trade and charity stalls and a display of classic cars.

There was also a chance for people to view archive film footage at the Regal Theatre, listen to some 1940s style dance music from the Silver Bird Aircraft and watch a flypast by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

There was a further church service in the evening on the church green as well as a performance from 1976 Eurovision Song Contest Winners Brotherhood of Man.

Sid Kenworthy, 76, of Stowmarket, who served with the Grenadier Guard between 1947 and 1953, said: "The parade was very good and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it gives the whole town a boost and it's great to see so many people, both young and old, out and about supporting the event."

Other celebrations took place in towns and villages including Woodbridge, Lowestoft and Needham Market.

In Woodbridge, the parade set off from the Napoleonic cannon in Lime Kiln Quay Road outside Elmhurst Park.

There was a short service led by Kevan McCormack in the park followed by entertainment by the Company of Four, who performed excerpts from their recent sell-out show The Final Celebration, at the Riverside Theatre.

Spectators were treated to songs from the war era including a swing selection and a singalong street party scene with a cast of more than 40 performers.

Former servicemen and women from the Lowestoft area took part in a parade and service in the town.

The service was the focal point of a weekend of activities, centred on Sparrow's Nest Gardens.

Lowestoft and District Combined Ex-Services Association organised the service in conjunction with Waveney District Council.

A short parade started opposite Sparrow's Nest, by the car park entrance, at 2.15pm followed by the service at the park's bandstand.

A street party and music were also part of the weekend's celebrations, which also included a presentation of chocolate bars on Saturday - a reconstruction of a gift from Canada to Lowestoft during the war, and the park's beacon was also lit.

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