M&S supports the VE 70th Anniversary
Having led on the M&S partnership for over three years, it has been incredible to witness the huge difference M&S has made during this time to the Legion and the services we are able to offer. The long-term support from M&S raises around £1 million every year for the Poppy Appeal through volunteer collectors in store and a further £900,000 was raised in 2014 from the range of poppy jewellery and Lights Out candle.
Not only have M&S stores and colleagues raised vital funds, the relationship helps us to engage with the general public in ways not possible before. With the support of M&S, the Legion is raising awareness on the high-street all year round, showing the public that we provide vital services to our beneficiaries 365 days of the year, not just in November.
This May marks an important anniversary for the Legion and the nation, 70 years ago on the 8th May 1945, the news the nation had been waiting for arrived - war in Europe was over! For days people had been anticipating the news of the German surrender - a team of bell ringers were on hand to ring in victory at St Paul's Cathedral, people bought Union Jack flags and houses were garlanded with bunting, ready for the celebrations that would surely come. 70 years on we are encouraging the nation to capture that spirit of 1945, to remember those that fought so bravely in the Second World War through commemoration and celebration.
Founded in 1884, M&S had a strong presence during the war years, with many colleagues, friends and family involved in the Armed Forces. 70 years later and M&S are showing their support by stocking limited edition VE Day pins during April to May 2015 for a suggested donation of £2 and donating 100% of the sales to the Legion. M&S colleagues are also encouraged to take part in the national commemoration and celebration events across the three days.
Across the weekend there’s a wide variety of events marking the occasion that ranges from a parade, a service of thanksgiving and a star-studded concert in central London, to street parties around the UK. As the national custodian of Remembrance, the Legion will act as the government’s key partner in leading the nation in marking the commemoration, including hosting a major reception for 2,000 veterans in St James’s Park. I’m extremely excited to be attending the concert on Horse Guards Parade, where some of the most recognised faces in entertainment will be performing!
As well as hosting events, we are creating an online collection of memories and stories from VE Day and sharing them on our website here. We hope to create the largest online record of VE Day stories and share them with the nation, to make sure these important moments are never lost or forgotten. Everyone who lived through the Second World War remembers what they were doing when the end of war in Europe was announced, in particular my Grandfather who served in the Navy during Second World War recalls “the sound of trains honking and church bells ringing following Winston Churchill’s announcement. People everywhere were celebrating by lighting bonfires and baking. The feeling of elation was widespread and that moment will stick with me forever”.
Please do join us and the rest of the nation in celebrating the anniversary and sharing your story during 8-10th May, on what will mark a truly momentous occasion.