Vera Lynn alive and writing to Comox Valley
Courtenay's Ken MacLeod recently opened his mail to discover a hand-signed letter from iconic Second World War songstress Dame Vera Lynn.
MacLeod had written to her earlier on behalf of a group of Comox Valley performers who put on a musical tribute called Memories of the War Years: A Musical Tribute to Veterans.
"It was a thrill and it was certainly a very personable letter," MacLeod says of Lynn's response, which he shared right away with Len Wilkie and the Lensmen and members of the Evergreen Choristers who performed in the tribute.
"Everybody's thrilled. They think so highly of her, they really do. She's very well thought of, very highly esteemed."
The English singer, who is now 96, was known as The Forces' Sweetheart during the Second World War as she travelled during the war to perform concerts for the troops. She was very famous, and MacLeod recalls hearing her voice fill his home when he was young.
"My mother had — everybody's mother had — Vera Lynn records, so I knew of her music for years," recalls MacLeod.
The musical tribute to veterans — which was performed in early November at the Florence Filberg Centre Conference Hall — featured a couple of Lynn's songs famous during the Second World War, White Cliffs of Dover and We’ll Meet Again. The performance was dedicated to Lynn and to veterans in the audience.
MacLeod's wife shot a video of the musical tribute and MacLeod sent the video and some photos of the cast along with the letter. Though MacLeod says he's thrilled she responded, he's not surprised because she has always been "the heart of the people."
Lynn thanks MacLeod for his letter saying "it is so nice to hear from people from Canada," and that she really enjoyed performing here, noting one concert on Vancouver Island in particular.
"Thank you for the tape and (keeping) these wonderful songs going, we must never forget those that gave their lives for us," she continues, calling the tribute "marvellous."
"Give my best wishes to all the boys and girls from the show and yourself, of course."
McLeod notes Lynn's 97th birthday is next month and he plans to send her a birthday card from the group.