Staff and families at the Dame Vera Lynn Children's Charity have expressed their devastation on learning of the death of its founder and President.
Dame Vera Lynn CH. DBE. LLD. MMus, who lived in Ditchling, East Sussex, passed away on 18th June 2020 surrounded by her close family, at the age of 103.
Dame Vera Lynn's daughter Virginia Lewis-Jones, Vice President of the Charity, which helps young children with cerebral palsy and other motor learning difficulties, said it had a very special place in her mother's heart.
"My mother first became involved in raising awareness of cerebral palsy in the 50s when there was very little understanding of the condition and children who suffered from motor learning difficulties were often referred to rather pejoratively as 'spastic.' Along with celebrity chums including David Jacobs and Wilfred Pickles, she set out to change people's attitudes towards the disability and help children reach their full potential. There was no one else raising funds to help at that time, so it was groundbreaking work.
"Although my mother was closely associated with other charities, not least those supporting veterans, the Dame Vera Lynn Children's Charity always held a very special place in her heart – the children loved her as much as she loved them and I'm extremely proud of what it has achieved and the difference it has made to so many families' lives."
Recently the Wartime Sweetheart urged everyone to get behind the Charity's Keep Smiling Through Appeal to help it survive the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on its fundraising.
"These are very difficult times for us all, whether it be personally, professionally or financially," said Dame Vera. "I ask all those who are able to support this wonderful cause and help young children with motor impairments to do so. I would also like to thank our supporters who have already helped us. They have each shown the same wonderful spirit we have seen in people like Captain Tom Moore."
In 2016 Dame Vera was recognised for her services to entertainment and charity after being made a Member of the Order of Companions of Honour in the Queen's 90th birthday honours.
Pilar Cloud, the Charity's Executive Manager added: "We have been extremely honoured to have had Dame Vera Lynn as our President and she was always a very passionate and wonderful ambassador for this Charity. Moreover, she has always been hands on, enjoying participating in sessions, singing songs with the children and setting the tone with real determination to ensure that "her families" were never forgotten.
"She was very fondly regarded by all of the staff and families, and will be greatly missed by so many people. We are very glad for the continued involvement in the Charity of Dame Vera's daughter, Virginia, and her son-in-law, Tom Jones, who is one of our Trustees."
Dame Vera devoted much of her time and energy to charity work and set-up the Dame Vera Lynn Children's Charity in 2001 to help very young children with cerebral palsy and other motor learning difficulties get the best possible start to life.
Based in Cuckfield, West Sussex, the Charity provides a free hands-on early intervention service as well as music and swimming therapy, an outreach support service and a parent support network and has directly helped over 600 families from the Southeast.
Dame Vera always devoted much of her time to the Charity and loved visiting to meet the parents and children, as well as attending Charity fundraising events, including the Celebration Dinner at the Imperial War Museum in October 2009, the Charity's 10th Anniversary Ball at the London Lancaster in April 2010 and her own 95 Year's Celebration Lunch at South Lodge Hotel in March 2012, along with numerous community fundraising events throughout her time as its President.
Further information regarding a memorial service will be announced at a later date.
If you would like to make a donation 'In Memory of Dame Vera Lynn' you can do so in the following ways:
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