D-Day events' message of light over darkness

Ceremonies have been held across the West Midlands to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

A service of remembrance was held at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire with the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh joining 26 D-Day and Normandy veterans.

At the time, the landings on the Normandy coastline constituted the largest military naval, air and land operation ever attempted.

Beacons were simultaneously lit across the UK at 21:15 BST, with more than 60 locations in the West Midlands hosting events.

Beacon ceremony
In Rugby, crowds gathered to watch the town's beacon being lit [BBC]

Bullfinch in Tysley, Birmingham, manufactured 75 beacons for the ceremonies and workers said they felt "emotional" and "proud" to have been part of such a project.

A sunset ceremony was held at Hillmorton in Rugby ahead of the beacon lighting performed by the mayor and deputy mayor.

Wreaths were laid and a poem written by a local veteran entitled June 1944 was read out, Kathryn Lawrence from the Royal British Legion said.

About 400 attended the event on Thursday evening.

Leamington Spa event
More than 200 people gathered at Newbold Comyn in Leamington Spa on Thursday evening to light a beacon [BBC]
Mike Salter
Mike Salter went to Stourport's event in his vintage vehicle [BBC]

Mike Salter from Kidderminster arrived at Stourport's War Memorial Park earlier in his vintage car.

“I acquired this vehicle a couple of years ago and I always take it to events like this,” he said.

“I leave it parked outside my house, people love it. I’m just here to celebrate D-Day really. I was in the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters, I know the sacrifices they made.”

Vintage army tanks were on display in the park along with poems read out by school children and a performance by a local choir.

Kempsey event
In Kempsey in Worcestershire more than 300 people gathered for a sunset ceremony which included seeing 1940s singer Ruby Rouge perform [BBC]

Mayor of Stourport John Thomas said Thursday’s event had been planned by the council and volunteers for several months.

“It’s been in the pipeline for a long time and this is the culmination of all that work and it’s very good.”

He added: “We wouldn’t be where we are today without the brave men and women of our forces and our allies who fought on the beaches of Normandy.”

He said he visited the war memorial in northern France last year which was a very moving experience.

John Thomas
Stourport mayor John Thomas said Thursday's event had been three to four months in the planning [BBC]

“We do owe a great deal to these people,” he added.

“They’ve put their lives on the line for the freedom of Europe and Great Britain, so it’s important that we celebrate anniversaries like this.

“We pass the knowledge onto the younger generation of what happened and what their freedom today is all about.”

Across the region, towns and villages have been hosting events to mark the anniversary.

Kempsey event
Falklands veteran, Martin Allen, (l) lit the beacon at the ceremony in Kempsey [BBC]

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