Church service marks VE Day

Pupils from the Richard Coates Middle School orchestra performed various pieces of music during the service.
Pupils from the Richard Coates Middle School orchestra performed various pieces of music during the service.

Dozens of Ponteland residents attended a special service to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day.

The village marked the end of the Second World War on May 8, 1945, by planting an oak tree on Coates Green, raised from an acorn grown by the children of Coates Endowed School.

Coun Joyce Butcher lays flowers.

Coun Joyce Butcher lays flowers.

Last Friday afternoon, a service took place in St Mary’s Church. It was conducted by the Vicar of Ponteland, Rev Peter Barham, and those in attendance included more than 100 children from Richard Coates Middle School.

The school’s orchestra performed some music, other pupils did a presentation and the war veterans at the event were asked by Rev Barham to share their memories of VE Day, along with those who were children at the time.

VE Day was the public holiday celebrated on May 8, 1945, to mark the formal acceptance by the Allies of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces, which resulted in the end of the Second World War in Europe.

After the service, Deputy Mayor of Ponteland Joyce Butcher and a representative from the school laid flowers at the oak tree on Coates Green. As night fell, a beacon was lit on the top of the church.

Back in 1945, church bells were rung up and down the country to celebrate VE Day and the bells at St Mary’s were rung for the service on Friday and for about three hours on Saturday.

Ponteland Town councillor Robin Ramsay, who co-ordinated the activities with the support of Rev Barham and the middle school, said: “We had a splendid service in the church and it was great to see that the Richard Coates pupils understood how important it was to mark the anniversary.

“They produced a lovely PowerPoint display about the celebrations in 1945 and the years afterwards and the various pieces of music were performed very well.

“It was rather wet on Friday evening, which had an effect on the number of people coming out to see the beacon, but we were able to keep it lit for the full hour.

“And the bell ringing was a nice accompaniment for those who were in the centre of Ponteland for shopping or something else on Saturday morning.”

The official national VE Day events included a service of thanksgiving in Westminster Abbey on Sunday.

The Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales and other senior royals, Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha, members of the Armed Forces and representatives of the Allied nations and Commonwealth countries that fought alongside Britain were among the congregation.

More than 580,000 members of the UK and Commonwealth forces lost their lives, along with 67,073 British civilians, during the conflict.