Victory in Europe celebrations may have been cancelled due to Covid-19 – but Oatlands Community Group is planning a virtual party instead!
Oatlands Community Group (OCG) had planned to hold a celebration in Oatlands Community Centre on Friday 8 May, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day. This will not be possible given current restrictions due to Covid-19, but OCG is determined not to let the day go unmarked.
“This occasion would have been particularly special to older people who may remember celebrating back in 1945. As people grow older they are often socially isolated, and this event would have been a highlight in the calendar for many,” explains Victoria Smith-Dunn, Chair of OCG. “Now, instead of being able to get out for a party, many of those people are more isolated than ever due to the virus. We wanted to do something to reach out to them, and focus our thoughts on them at this special time.”
Since the beginning of the lockdown, OCG and its volunteers have been delivering care packages to elderly and vulnerable residents in the Oatlands area. Every Monday, packages containing essentials such as toilet rolls and teabags, as well as drawings by local children, are provided to over 40 local residents each week. Many recipients have put the drawings up in their windows as a mark of appreciation.
“On Friday 8 May, we will be delivering additional packages containing afternoon tea for one – cucumber sandwiches and scones with jam and cream – as well as a postcard reproduction of a wartime scene drawn by local schoolboy Will Robinson, with the lyrics to Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’ on the back,” says Victoria.
To help people celebrate virtually – and focusing especially on younger families who may be less aware of the significance of the occasion – OCG has prepared a VE Day Activity Pack containing information about the significance of VE Day, bunting, colouring in sheets (prepared by local resident Joanne Dalla-Riva) and other ideas for engaging children in the day. The pack can be downloaded from the social enterprise, myLifePool’s website for free or can be obtained by post at a cost of £1.75.
There is also a range of other activity packs that can be purchased from myLifePool, all proceeds will be donated to Oatlands Community. Currently, these activity packs have raised £55 in just 2 days for the group.
“We hope to persuade Stray FM to play ‘We’ll Meet Again’ at 4pm on Friday 8 May, so that everyone can gather on the doorstep and raise a glass (or a cup of tea!) in celebration with their neighbours – at a safe distance, of course!” says Victoria. “While we can only cover the Oatlands area, we would be delighted if other areas of Harrogate wanted to take up our idea – our website contains everything people need to replicate our activities elsewhere.”
To find out more about OCG’s VE Day celebrations, to offer support or ask for assistance, please visit www.oatlandscommunity.co.uk .
Contact Victoria Smith-Dunn at Oatlands Community Group for more information