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​​​'Don't let the lockdown let us forget our VE Day heroes' – museum staff and WWII veteran urge pu​blic to celebrate VE day at home on the weekend of 8-10 May.

A Second World War veteran is urging people to make a special effort to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day – even if the lockdown remains in place.

Joyce Dowding, who was in Belgium at the end of the war, said plans by staff at Kirkleatham Museum not to let the coronavirus crisis prevent preparations for the big day show, “exactly the right spirit."

Staff at Kirkleatham Museum have created a series of videos packed with ideas for children and families to help them celebrate VE day in style.

Two videos per week will be posted to the Museum's Facebook in the run up to Friday 8 May, giving easy-to-follow ideas on how to get creative with materials everyone has at home.

From DIY bunting to 'make do and mend' crafts, these fun activities will help keep local families cheerful, as well as thinking about how the past has shaped our lives today.

A major parade and party in Redcar had previously been planned but had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. But now staff at the museum, which has had to be closed, are encouraging everyone to check out the videos and take part.

The first video is inspired by the example of Major Tom Moore and involves families making their own VE Day 2020 medals. See the video here:

And the museum staff have won the support of a local World War Two veteran. Joyce Dowding, 97, of Redcar, was conscripted in 1940, aged 18, into the Navy, Army and Air Force Institute (NAAFI) which catered for servicemen in combat zones in the 1939-1945 war and was serving in Ypres, Belgium when the war ended.

Speaking from her supported housing accommodation, Joyce said: “This is an excellent idea and shows exactly the right spirit. I can't think of anything more like a tribute to all those who served than not being beaten but carrying on and keeping our spirits up."

Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Karen King said: “We can't do what we originally wanted to commemorate VE Day - but people should still do all they can to remember those who sacrificed so much in the war and then helped build the modern world. They really were the special generation."

Other exciting plans to commemorate VE Day are being developed across Redcar and Cleveland and Middlesbrough and details are expected to revealed in the coming days and weeks.

See the 'how to' videos and suggestions – and much more – on Kirkleatham Museum's Facebook site here

Find the museum's dedicated website here: