Wildflower meadow on White Cliffs of Dover named in honour of Dame Vera Lynn
By Michael Drummond, PA South East Correspondent
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A meadow on the famous White Cliffs of Dover has been renamed in memory of beloved singer Dame Vera Lynn to mark the anniversary of her death.
The picturesque stretch of land by the sea is alive with wildflowers and songbirds and will serve as a lasting tribute to the adored wartime figure.
A lighthouse standing atop the cliffs was to be lit on Thursday in honour of Dame Vera, shining out over the English Channel after being switched on by her daughter.
Dame Vera, who entertained troops with morale-boosting visits to the front line during the Second World War, died aged 103 on June 18 2020.
Her famous lyrics “There’ll be bluebirds over the White Cliffs of Dover” have seen her forever associated with the beautiful Kent coastline.
On Friday, Dame Vera’s family will also formally launch an appeal to raise funds for a memorial statue for the late singer, with a song released to help raise money.
Renamed Dame Vera Lynn Down, the meadow was unveiled at a special ceremony on Thursday, while a footpath leading to the clifftops was also renamed Dame Vera Lynn Way by Dover District Council.
The wheat field was part of a £1 million fundraising campaign by the National Trust to buy 178 acres of arable land on the clifftops in 2017, which Dame Vera supported.
It is now being returned to its original grassland state and is already filled with wildflowers, including ox-eye daisy, wild carrot and viper’s bugloss, and attracts corn buntings and skylarks, the nation’s songbird.
Virginia Lewis-Jones, Dame Vera’s daughter, said: “My mother would be absolutely delighted to have the wildflower meadow named after her, especially as she proactively supported the National Trust’s campaign to protect the landscape back in 2017.
“She always loved having flowers around her and was a keen gardener for many decades.
“The renaming of the footpath to Dame Vera Lynn Way is a touching tribute as my mother always remarked the white cliffs were the last landmark seen as the boys went off to war and the first they saw when they returned home.”
Dame Vera was also known for hits including There’ll Always Be An England, I’ll Be Seeing You, Wishing and If Only I Had Wings.
Another of her songs, We’ll Meet Again, experienced a resurgence last year when the Queen referenced it in an address to the nation about the coronavirus lockdown.
Ginny Portman, general manager at the National Trust, said: “Dame Vera Lynn will forever be remembered on the White Cliffs of Dover.
“It is fitting that the fields she helped save are now home to the skylark and its beautiful, melodic song.”
The trust and council further marked the anniversary with a special switching-on of the South Foreland Lighthouse, which has been lit only three times in 33 years.
The Victorian lighthouse was decommissioned in 1988 but was lit on Thursday evening with special permission from the Trinity House Lighthouse Authority and HM Coastguard, in honour of Dame Vera.
Dame Vera’s family are raising funds to build a memorial statue near the White Cliffs of Dover, formally launching their appeal on Friday.
Singer Katie Ashby, who performed on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent with The D-Day Darlings, is releasing a song titled Irreplaceable to raise funds for the memorial on Friday.