Commemorative D-Day event comes to Lakeside Village
A nostalgic event with true 1940s spirit will commemorate D-Day at Lakeside Village in Doncaster next weekend thanks to the Victoria Cross Trust.
The charitable organisation, which works to ensure that the approximately 700 family graves of Victoria Cross recipients across the UK are maintained and remembered for generations to come, will be onsite at the retail outlet on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 June with memorabilia, historic military vehicles including American Willys Jeeps – the standard Jeep from WWII – with re-enactors dressed in 1940s clothing and uniforms.
Retired Prison Officer Paul Grimley, who lives in Doncaster and is now events coordinator at the Victoria Trust and also a battlefield tour guide, said: “We’ll be playing 1940s music during this commemorative event for D-Day and on Sunday, there will be an appearance by a Sir Winston Churchill actor – which will be me! I’m coming in a 1940s uniform on the Saturday and my wife will be dressed in Women’s Land Army clothing. It’s about education as well as entertainment and remembrance.
“Our mission is to raise funds to restore the graves of the Victoria Cross recipients. The people who were awarded VCs are the bravest of the brave, and that’s what we commemorate. There have been 1,364 Victoria Crosses awarded since 1856, so it’s not that often and over the 2000s the giving of the Victoria Cross has dropped phenomenally.
“There were 628 VCs in WWI over four years and there were 14 VCs over the 14 years of Afghanistan. So it’s got harder and harder and to do something that would attract that sort of award. We’re very proud to look after the graves of these people.”
The Victoria Cross is the highest British & Commonwealth Military award a soldier can receive and requires an extreme act of bravery in the presence of the enemy – with those who have received it often revered as heroes. All fundraising activities aim to generate income to upkeep and preserve graves, with respect for servicemen and their families at the heart of their activities.
The event at Lakeside Village marks the anniversary of D-Day which launched on 6 June 1944, and was the start of the Allied invasion of Normandy. This extensive cross-Channel attack enabled the UK, the United States and their allies to land substantial forces on mainland Europe during the Second World War.
Other displays on the day include two safely deactivated 1940s machine guns available for photo opportunities – one being a German machine gun and one British – and within the women’s land army display, an Allis Chalmers 1942 Tractor.
Paul added: “It’s the education, entertainment and raising funds for this cause that we treasure, and with this upcoming weekend, the sacrifices made on D-Day. There was only one Victoria Cross awarded for D-Day which was awarded to Sergeant-Major Stanley Hollis.
“He survived WW2 and is buried in Aklam Cemetery on Teeside, and his is one of the graves that we have cleaned. We send a team out to assess each grave and depending upon what is required to turn it back into the tribute that it should be, a team of three or four go out with all the equipment required to do the job. Each of these renovations can cost up to £800, and this is why we need the funds.”
Di Rodgers, centre manager at Lakeside Village, said: “We’re honoured to be providing a space for the Victoria Cross D-Day commemoration weekend, which is sure to be a respectful, educational tribute to those who served our country.
“It will be a fun-filled family friendly event that captures the fighting spirit of the 1940s with music from the era and fascinating artefacts to learn about. We do take our hats off to people like Paul and the team at the Trust who take care in restoring the graves of these brave people who are an important part of our history. We hope it’ll be a great day for our community and are sure our customers will support them with some much-needed donations.”
The event will run from 9am-3pm on 5th-6th June 2021.