Village prepares for the VE Day spotlight

Second World War veteran Ted Bulloch and Belford's Betty Brown with a pupil from Belford.
Second World War veteran Ted Bulloch and Belford's Betty Brown with a pupil from Belford.

A north Northumberland village school will lead the way for the nation’s VE Day commemorations tomorrow.

St Mary’s Church of England Aided Middle School in Belford is delighted to have been selected to represent the nation’s children to mark 70 years since peace was declared in Europe.

In addition, the historic coaching village is the only town, city or village to be chosen in the north to commemorate this momentous day on the BBC coverage.

Many activities have been planned in the village including a wreath-laying at the War Memorial – Treelocate of Belford has generously donated this and another wreath to the village – a community church service at the Parish Church of St Mary and a donation and dedication of a new flagpole to the village.

Resident Betty Brown has not only donated the flagpole and flag, but also the cost of installing the flag and much of the village’s Union Jack bunting.

In addition, The John Dory fish and chip shop is offering a special Spam fritter and chip supper for only 3d old money or £3.60 new money and a wartime-themed menu will be available for the whole weekend at the Sunnyhills Farm Shop.

The village has been bedecked in bunting as part of a fund-raiser for the refurbishment of the local park – with many Union Jacks now added.

Groundworks around the school have been undertaken in readiness for the filming, with kind donations from MKM Alnwick, and both schools in Belford are planning activities tomorrow including a rations-based lunch, guest speakers and a show-and-share of Second World War memorabilia supplied by the Armstrong Household and Farming Museum.

As part of the build-up to VE Day, 70 pupils welcomed two very special guests to hear about what it was like during the Second World War.

Veteran Ted Bulloch and Betty Brown shared their wartime experiences with the children in an articulate and engaging interaction that brought to life what the pupils are learning from their history books.

Ted described months of Blitz bombing in London, then going on to serve in the RAF and later the Army on many campaigns, including in Antwerp to support the breached frontline and later to Omaha beach.

He also shared Winston Churchill’s ‘beaches’ speech.

Betty did a splendid job of describing life as a wartime child with today’s children gasping incredulously at the rations families were expected to live on.

She shared what it was like huddling together in the shelters, cellars and even London’s Underground stations when there was a raid.

She also described how difficult it was for the children who were evacuated for many years.

● In Amble tomorrow, following two minutes’ silence at 3pm, representatives of Amble Town Council will lay wreaths on behalf of residents at the town’s war memorials.