A day of song for Darlington’s virtual VE celebrations

A day of song for Darlington’s virtual VE celebrations
07 May 2020

Preparations are well underway for Darlington’s virtual ‘street party’ to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

Although the planned celebrations had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the town will still mark the occasion thanks to the generous efforts of musicians, performers, local historians and council staff to put together a day of entertainment to be shared online.

Tracks Darlington, a not-for-profit music organisation led by Sarah Wilson and Rob Irish, have collaborated with a number of singers from around the region to produce two videos celebrating the best of war time music and traditions.

A special song commemorating Darlington’s hero William McMullen is one of the highlights of the event, produced by Martin Pybus.

Sarah Wilson, from Tracks, said: “Tracks are pleased to work with Darlington Borough Council to bring a variety of local musicians together to create a series of on line performances in celebration of VE Day. 

“The videos feature Claire Wilmer of Voices of Darlington, specialist 1940's singer Damaris Jean and Darlington's very own Vintage Belles. Plus there will be smooth sentimental songs from Phil Wing, plus ukulele fun from Liz Corney of Field Music and The Cornshed Sisters.

Martin Pybus said: “I knew the story of McMullen but was surprised at the amount of people from Darlington that didn't know of his sacrifice and why McMullen Road is named after him.

“That inspired me to write the song to help spread the word of his heroism".   

Sarah added: “We felt that sharing McMullen's story and song as part of the VE Celebrations would be a very fitting tribute.”

The ‘virtual street party’, which will see content shared throughout the day, will also involve contributions from storyteller Elizabeth Baker, who has worked with the Head of Steam Museum to tell two key tales from the Second World War and VE Day itself, a message from the town crier, Peter Stemmer, and pictures sent in by residents of their own preparations for the event.

Councillor Heather Scott, leader of Darlington Borough Council, said: “It’s wonderful that so many talented people have been able to come together to make sure that Darlington can still pay its tribute on the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

“I hope that everyone finds a way to mark the occasion if they wish, while staying safe, and that our virtual street party provides some entertainment to residents throughout the Bank Holiday.”