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Dame Vera Lynn: the Forcesí Sweetheart

Using our talents to help others

by Rebecca Parkinson

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To celebrate the life of Dame Vera Lynn, who died on 18 June 2020.

Preparation and materials

Assembly

  1. Explain that you are going to ask some questions about a famous British woman who died on 18 June 2020.

    Show the first image, available at: https://tinyurl.com/ydf2mj2n

  2. Ask the following questions. (The answers are in bold.)

    a) What do you think is the name of the woman in this picture?
        Vera       Gladys       Carol

    b) What do you think was her middle name?
        Margaret     Sylvia     Winifred

    c) What do you think she did as a job?
        Writer       Nurse     Singer

    (After this question, you can refer to Vera Lynn by name.)

    d) When was Vera Lynn born?
        1907     
    1917      1927

    Reiterate that the picture shows Dame Vera Lynn, who was born in March 1917 and became a famous singer.

    e) How old do you think Vera was when she began to sing in local clubs?
        4      
    7      9

    f) Vera became famous because she appeared . . .
       . . .
    on television     . . . in a film      . . . on the radio

    g) When did the Second World War begin?
        1939    1941   1945

    h) Soon after the war started, Vera was given her own radio show. What was it called?
       ‘Sincerely Yours         Sincerely Singing            Sincerely Mine

    i) During the Second World War, Vera became known as:
       The Forces Darling            The Forces Pin-Up           The Forces Sweetheart

  3. Show the second image, available at: https://tinyurl.com/ych3zk4m

    Explain that during the Second World War, Vera travelled abroad to visit the troops who were fighting in the war. There, she would sing songs that would remind the soldiers of home and reassure them that they were not forgotten. Both those serving in the war and those left at home found her music a great source of comfort and strength.

  4. Play the song ‘We’ll meet again’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHcunREYzNY (3.02 minutes long)

  5. Continue with your quiz about Dame Vera Lynn.

    j) When do you think Vera Lynn got married?
       1941      1945     1950

    k) When did Vera Lynn have her first number one record in the US charts with the song ‘Auf wiederseh’n, sweetheart’?
        1948       1951       1953

    l) How old was Vera Lynn when she had her last number one top-selling album in the UK charts?
       53       67        92

    Point out that it was in 2009 that Vera Lynn became the oldest living artist to top the UK album chart with her compilation album, We’ll meet again: the very best of Vera Lynn.

  6. Show the third image, available at: https://tinyurl.com/ya649nok

    Continue with your quiz about Dame Vera Lynn.

    m) How old was Vera Lynn when she released her last album?
         93      97      99

    n) During the last decade, Vera Lynn released an album to commemorate a particular event. What was that event?

       The end of the Second World War      The D-Day landings     Sir Winston Churchill’s birthday

    Explain that in 2014, when Vera was 97, she released an album to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the D-Day landings. It reached number 13 in the charts!

  7. Explain that throughout her life, Vera Lynn was keen to use her popularity to help others. She helped many charities, and also founded her own, Dame Vera Lynn Childrens Charity, to help children with cerebral palsy. (More information about this charity is available at: https://dvlcc.org.uk/)

    Vera counted it a privilege to be able to help people in this way. She is reported to have said once, ‘I got so many letters. I still get them now, and Im always moved by them. It seemed extraordinary that soldiers would come back from the war and write to thank me for what I had done. It made me feel very humble, and thats why Ive always done everything I can to thank them back.’

Time for reflection

Vera Lynn was an amazing woman who used her talent for singing to benefit others. She lived a great life and is an inspiration to us today.

Each of us has talents. Like Vera, we may be gifted musically. Alternatively, we may be good at sport or academic subjects, we may be lovely people whom others feel able to open up to or we may be generous. In a sense, it doesn’t matter what our talents are – what matters is how we use them. Let’s seek to follow Vera Lynn’s example and use our lives to help others.

Optional: you may wish to play one of Vera Lynn’s songs as the following reflection takes place.

Let’s thank God for the life of Vera Lynn and for the hope and peace that her music has brought to so many people.

Now let’s pause and think about people who are fighting in war-torn areas today. In the quietness, let’s ask God to bring peace.

Let’s pause to think about our own lives. How can we use our lives to help others? Vera used her talent of singing to bring peace and hope to people in a time of fear and sadness.

All of us have talents that we can use to bring happiness to others. Are we willing to use these talents?

You may wish to use the following prayer.

Prayer
Dear God,
We thank you for the life of Vera Lynn.
We thank you for the joy, peace and hope that she brought to many people.
Please help us to follow her example and use our gifts and abilities to help others.
Please be with all those who are experiencing fear at this time.
We ask that you bring peace.
Amen.

Song/music

‘We’ll meet again, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHcunREYzNY (3.02 minutes long)

‘(Therell be blue birds over) The white cliffs of Dover, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkZLkF_eJoo (3.15 minutes long)

Publication date: July 2020   (Vol.22 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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