Dame Vera Lynn has encouraged the British public to “rediscover that same spirit that saw us through the war” amid the coronavirus pandemic, in a special message ahead of her 103rd birthday.
The Forces’ Sweetheart, who performed to British troops during the Second World War, will celebrate on March 20.
She said: “Thank-you all for the kind gifts, cards and gestures I received to celebrate my birthday this year. Once again, I am overwhelmed by everyone’s kindness and generosity, and am so grateful to you all for helping me to mark this milestone.
“I feel very fortunate to have reached 103, and my day will be made all the more special by hearing from people all around the world. Thank-you also for your generosity towards my Charitable Trust as I care very much about the work it does and the donations received around my birthday are the best gift imaginable.”
Dame Vera, born in East Ham, east London, rose to popularity while performing for troops during the war in countries including Egypt, India and Burma.
Her best-known songs include We’ll Meet Again, The White Cliffs Of Dover and There’ll Always Be An England.
She added: “All around the world, people are facing extremely difficult times. It is likely that we will all have to make hard decisions in the coming months.
“I am reminded of World War Two, when our country faced the darkest of times and yet, despite our struggles, pulled together for the common good and we faced the common threat together as a country, and as a community of countries that joined as one right across the world.
“In light of the challenges we now face, it is time for us all to rediscover that same spirit that saw us through the war. By keeping calm, looking after each other and following the Government’s latest guidance, we can overcome the threat of coronavirus (Covid-19) just as we have overcome so many other challenges before.
“I am sure many people, especially the elderly, are worried about what the future may hold. I encourage you all to keep smiling through.
“Even if we are isolated in person, we can still be united in spirit. As the war showed us so many years ago, we are all stronger than we think and however desperate things may seem today, remember that we can still be kind, we can still laugh… and we can still sing.”