Dame Vera Launches Keep Smiling Through Appeal

Wartime sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn and Britain's Got Talent winner Colin Thackery are joining forces to help save the veteran singer's children's charity from falling victim to Coronavirus.

The Dame Vera Lynn Children's Charity has helped more than 600 children with cerebral palsy and other motor impairments over almost 20 years. But now the Sussex-based charity is facing its biggest threat yet as Coronavirus has forced it to close its doors and brought fundraising to a near standstill.

In true Dame Vera spirit, the Charity has launched an emergency Keep Smiling Through appeal, backed by the Charity's latest Ambassador, Chelsea Pensioner and BGT winner Colin Thackery. To mark her 103rd Birthday last week, the Forces favourite urged the nation to "keep smiling and keep singing" amid the pandemic forcing the country into a lockdown. Now the pair are urging supporters to help the charity so it can continue to provide much-needed support to the children and families it helps from all over the south east.

"I set up the charity almost 20 years ago to help children with cerebral palsy by teaching them to build muscle control, posture movement and communications and social skills so they could lead a life of greater independence as they grow older," said Dame Vera."While we have had to close the doors of the Charity due to Government advice, the children's needs do not change. We are still providing one-to-one video support to families as well as general activities and advice to keep the children as active as possible. But to do this, we urgently need more funds."

Ninety-year-old Colin, who won last year's Britain's Got Talent, appeared on ITV's Good Morning Britain this week and likened Coronavirus to fighting a war. Revealing he was now an Ambassador of the DVLCC, he urged the nation to "be patient".

"I am delighted to be an Ambassador of the Dame Vera Lynn Children's Charity and was honoured to visit the centre before it was forced to close," he explained. "Now, I can't think of anything more fulfilling than helping it to raise some money to enable it to continue carrying out its vital work."

The Charity does not receive any statutory funding and is entirely reliant upon donations from individuals, community groups, companies and trusts and foundations.  "We are also not eligible for any of the Government's Coronavirus Small Business Grants or Business Interruption Loan Scheme and no specific Government funding has been announced for the charity sector in all of this," explained Pilar Cloud, its Executive Manager.

"Our service is a vital lifeline to the families we help and is provided free-of-charge to all of them. As well as the on-line individual service we are providing via Zoom, we are also sharing exercise and stretching programmes for our parents to try with their children and giving them opportunities to sing along to some familiar songs with some familiar Charity faces.The feedback we have had from our families about these new video sessions has been absolutely heart warming."

"In the same way that Dame Vera Lynn provided positivity and spirit to the soldiers and their families during World War II, the Charity is continuing to keep smiling through this very troubling time – but we do need help."

The Charity's emergency appeal can be found: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/keepsmilingthrough

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