The Forces Sweetheart
‘An ordinary girl with an extraordinary life’
Dame Vera Lynn was born in East London in 1917 and her career began at just seven years of age when she began to sing professionally in East End Working Men’s Clubs. She spent the 1920s and 30s fronting some of the top society orchestras and being featured on many of their recordings. Vera Lynn captured the British public because as she says “I was never a glamour girl. I was the girl next door.”
She became known as ‘The Forces Sweetheart’ after a Daily Express poll named her as British servicemen’s favourite musical performer. In 1940, she began Sincerely Yours, her own BBC radio show that was broadcast home and abroad via shortwave radio. For seven years, Dame Vera Lynn performed songs that reminded the troops of home including the songs that she will forever be associated with – We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover among many others.
Dame Vera Lynn loved “her boys” and was committed to supporting them throughout the war. She toured Egypt and India with the Entertainment National Services Association, after which she travelled under the auspices of the army to Burma, bringing the troops a sense of ‘back home’ so that they did not feel so far away or forgotten. Dame Vera is quoted in recalling those times, “I remember one of the boys saying, ‘Home can’t be that far away because you’re here.”
Her career continued to flourish after the war with hits home and abroad including multiple top tens in the UK and a number one in the United States for nine weeks. She continued to perform through the 1960s and 70s and in the latter half of her career she re-focused to raising monies for charity.
During 2009, seventy years after the start of World War II, she published her memoirs at the age of 92 and named her autobiography Some Sunny Day. She also had a number one best selling CD and was in great demand throughout the year. 2014 was a very special year for Dame Vera as her 90th anniversary in show business coincided with the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Landings. To commemorate this special anniversary, she released a new album that included recently rediscovered, unreleased songs: Vera Lynn: National Treasure – The Ultimate Collection.
At the time, Dame Vera said “I think it’s wonderful that my songs are still enjoyed, especially if it encourages people to commemorate what happened 70 years ago. It’s moving for me to relive those days, and humbling to know that people still think of me. After all, it was simply my duty to keep singing.”
Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity
Throughout her adult life, Dame Vera Lynn has been heavily involved with a number of charities. In 1953 along with the late Wilfred Pickles, Dame Vera persuaded a group of celebrity friends to join them in forming ‘The Stars Organisation for Spastics (SOS). The SOS raised money under the umbrella of the Spastics Society, which subsequently became the national charity, Scope. The stars not only ran raffles and sold programmes, but also enjoyed ‘hands on’ involvement in the charity by sitting on the management committees for the charity supported residential and holiday homes for people with cerebral palsy.
In 1992, the SOS built a beautiful bespoke facility for Scope to house the School for Parents at Ingfield Manor, West Sussex, which provided a service to families with very young children with cerebral palsy and other motor learning difficulties. Less than ten years later, Scope announced that it would be unable to continue funding the national network of Schools for Parents. Understanding the importance of the early intervention provided by the School for Parents, Dame Vera Lynn stepped in and established her own charity in 2001, Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity, to continue to provide the essential service established at Ingfield Manor. It was Dame Vera Lynn’s passion and effort that saved the school from closing over fifteen years ago.
“My role as President of the Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity is hugely important to me. For a family to be suddenly and unexpectedly faced with the news that their child is affected by cerebral palsy is a life-altering experience. The special attention that their child will need in his or her early years is woefully lacking in the public sector. The free service that our charity provides is a lifeline to our families. The Charity will support them through the early years and help to ensure that their child achieves their maximum potential and that more children and future adults will be able to take a full and active part in their own lives and make a meaningful contribution to society.”
At 99 years of age, Dame Vera is a vibrant and passionate President of Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity and supports the Charity as it is looking to expand its range of services to their families in the Southeast of England.
Dame Vera was recognised in the Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours as a Member of the Order of Companions of Honour for her services to entertainment and charity. On receiving her Honour, Dame Vera said,
“In accepting this award, I do so in remembrance of all our wonderful brave boys who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and in honour of all the children affected by cerebral palsy and allied conditions.”
If you would like to get in touch with Dame Vera Lynn you can send requests via our website or email us direct email@example.com or write to the office (the full address can be found under our Contact Us page). It would be appreciated if any letters you send were kept as short as possible as Dame Vera Lynn receives numerous requests on a daily basis and if may take some time before you receive a reply. Due to the increasing volume of correspondence now being received by Dame Vera we have been asked that for multiple requests for autographs and signed photos, a donation be made to her Charity. When sending in your letter you can enclose a cheque payable to ‘Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity’ or confirm that you have made a donation via our website to our Just Giving page and put in the message box that the donation is for ‘Dame Vera Request’. Please also ensure that you include the correct postage when asking for signed photos to be returned.