VE Day is an important date for so many of us in Hackney, and this year we were planning to mark the 75th anniversary with a series of special celebrations at Hackney Town Hall and across the borough

For obvious reasons, we’re no longer able to do that, and instead we will be marking it at home, but it’s important this monumental anniversary is not forgotten.

The former metropolitan boroughs of Hackney, Shoreditch and Stoke Newington – which today make up the modern borough of Hackney – were badly hit by bombs. Hundreds of civilian residents were killed, thousands were injured, and many lost their homes. It changed society and London forever. 

On Tuesday, 8 May 1945, thousands of people journeyed from Hackney to join in the celebrations at Buckingham Palace. It’s hard to imagine the sense of joy – but also underlying grief – they must have felt that at last, the end of a war that had raged for six long years was in sight 

Today we stop to remember, celebrate and reflect the sacrifice, courage and determination of all those who played a part in VE Day, as well as those residents whose lives were changed forever, who lost family members or have another personal connection to World War II. We owe them a debt of gratitude, and must never forget them.

Over the last seven or so weeks, Hackney residents have again come together and shown real resilience. The incredible Hackney Spirit we see every day is so inspiring, with people supporting their neighbours and going out of their way to make sure we get through the challenging days and months ahead.

This feels more poignant than ever today, as we approach the next stage of this crisis thinking, as they did back in 1945, about the type of society we want to see in the months and years ahead. We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s playing their bit to look out for and support others –  as a key worker or through a local mutual aid group, by fundraising, or simply adhering to Government guidelines.

On days like today, when we so desperately want to be together, it is especially hard. We must adapt, in the knowledge that one day we will be able to get together for those street parties, tea dances and parades that bring the community and the generations together. 

At 11am, a two-minute silence will be held for us to honour the service and sacrifice of the Second World War generation.This feels like an appropriate time for us to reflect not just on the lives lost and changed forever during the Second World War but the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on so many lives, both here in Hackney, across the country and the world. At 3pm we will be raising a glass during the Nation’s Toast.

We know that many of you will be doing other things to celebrate at home, via virtual get togethers with friends and loved ones, and maybe even taking part in a door step singalong. The Royal British Legion have lots of ideas for ways to mark the day, as well as learning resources, on their website. 

We would love to see your photos and hear how you are marking this day with true Hackney Spirit – please share them via social media using the hashtag #hackneyspirit and #VEDay75- or send them to us at press@hackney.gov.uk.

However you’re marking today, we wish you well, hope you have a good day and stay safe.

Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney

Cllr Kam Adams, Speaker of Hackney

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