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Cathedrals to mark VE Day with picnics at home

01 May 2020

Rae McAlpine

EIGHTEEN cathedrals are due to take part in the Big Picnic for Hope, an event to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) day. Instead of the physical get-together that had been planned for 8 May, now there will be a virtual event in which people will be encouraged to hold picnics indoors or in their gardens, connecting with other participants online.

The cathedrals involved include Bradford, Chelmsford, Chester, Chichester, Exeter, Guildford, Lichfield, Liverpool, Manchester, Rochester, Peterborough, Portsmouth, St Albans, Wakefield, Wells and Southwell. Peterborough Cathedral will also be streaming an online VE Day Commemoration Service at 3 p.m. next Friday on the cathedral’s website and Facebook page.

Besides remembering the events of VE Day, the theme of the Big Picnic for Hope will be the efforts of key workers during the coronavirus pandemic, including NHS workers, carers, those delivering groceries, and public-transport workers. Using the hashtag #feed5000 on social media, the event is also designed to raise £5000 for the Trussell Trust, which organises foodbanks.

The Dean of Lichfield, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber, said: “Although big public plans for celebrating the 75th anniversary of VE Day 2020 have had to be put on hold, it seems really appropriate to use the date to remember the experience of World War II, and to think about the humanity and care we have seen right now. The aim of the Big Picnic for Hope is to have a shared occasion when, whether sitting at home or in your garden, by sharing a meal and a conversation we can swap our stories, memories, and experiences.

“We hope people right across the country will be taking part, talking about what’s moved them, inspired them, made them grateful, or got them thinking new kinds of things. People from the past and people in the present spark our hope for the future. It will be good to name those people and hopes on 8 May.”

The chief operating officer of the Trussell Trust, Samantha Stapley, said: “As the coronavirus outbreak develops, more people are likely to need a foodbank’s help. Our teams are working tirelessly to ensure that foodbanks are able to remain open and have the necessary stocks to respond to this crisis. The support of the cathedral network means we can remain agile to respond to the fast-changing situation and ensure foodbanks continue to provide the lifeline of emergency food and additional support for people in crisis.”

Participants in the Big Picnic for Hope are encouraged to show others photos of food that they have made for their picnics and to discuss memories of their loved ones, using the hashtag #bigpicnicforhope. People will also be encouraged to donate online on the Just Giving page for the event.

Celebrations of the anniversary will also include a televised address from the Queen at 9 p.m. on 8 May, as well as a pre-recorded moment of reflection and prayer from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

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