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VE Day 75 celebrations are off in the interests of public health and safety

Despite organisers remaining defiant that a market town's VE Day celebrations could go ahead late last week, a national announcement put paid to those hopes shortly afterwards.

The national pageant master of VE Day 75, Bruno Peek, announced on Friday that the coronavirus had forced them to make the "difficult decision" to cancel all celebrations on May 8.

This includes Swaffham where a Lancaster Bomber flypast had been booked for the event.

There will no Market Place celebrations in Swaffham on Friday, May 8 for VE75 Day
There will no Market Place celebrations in Swaffham on Friday, May 8 for VE75 Day

While events in Downham and Lynn had already been postponed earlier this month, there was no indication Swaffham would follow suit until the national announcement.

A statement from Swaffham Town Council released today states: "In light of the undernoted Government notice it is with regret that the mayor of Swaffham, councillor Jill Skinner has taken the decision to cancel the planned VE Day 75 Celebration event on 8th May 2020 in Swaffham.

"The health and wellbeing of the town and visitors is paramount and so it is without question the correct action to take at this time.

"It is hoped the event can be moved to the weekend of 15-16 August 2020 and we will be in touch when further information is available.

"In the meantime please stay safe during this very difficult time."

Town councillor Brendan Holmes had taken to social media to express his concern at Swaffham's late decision to postpone the event, and emphasised a clear decision needed to be made swiftly in the interest of public health and safety.

And his wish was soon granted with Mr Peek announcing: "It is right and proper that people should be kept safe and healthy.

"My sincere thanks to everyone who registered their events and were looking forward to celebrating VE75.

"I know how disappointed you will be that these cannot now go ahead."

Chairman of the VE Day organising committee Ian Pilcher said: "This is a grave disappointment to the multitudes of supporters and volunteers, all across the country and very much so in Swaffham, who have given hours of activity and enthusiasm in trying to establish a memorable day within the Community.

"We were ready to deliver and now are thwarted by circumstance."

Elsewhere, St Mary's Church in Snettisham had been granted £3,000 from the Parish Council for VE Day celebrations following a unanimous vote at a full council meeting on March 4.

Government guidance on mass gatherings states: "In line with the social distancing guidance it is advised that large gatherings should not take place.

"While the risks of transmitting the disease at mass gatherings are relatively low, these steps will also allow emergency services that would have been deployed for these events to be prioritised in alleviating pressure on public services."

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