As the nation looks to commemorate the 76th anniversary of VE Day on Saturday, we spoke to RAF veteran Reg Lawrence about what he remembers from the historic day. Just a teenager at the time, Reg would go on to serve in the RAF in the 1950s. Today he is a member of one of the Fund’s Telephone Friendship Groups, providing him a weekly phone call to ease the isolation of lockdown.
When VE Day was announced in 1945, Reg was still a schoolboy. The 13-year-old was called into the school hall with the rest of the pupils and told the good news.
He said: "The teacher said 'Mr Churchill has just declared that the war in Europe is over. You can all go home'. Everyone started jumping up and down and cheering.
"I ran home and when I got there I remember dancing in the street with mum and dad. All the neighbours were in the street eating and drinking. Whatever food was available was shared on a long table and we had a great big party.
"And that night for the first time in months we had the street lights on!"
The war years had been tough for Reg who was originally sent away from his home in London to the Oxfordshire countryside. The area he lived in was plagued with doodlebug and V-bomb attacks and it was deemed safer for him to be out of the capital.
He added: “Mother and I were watching these bombs come down close to our house and explode. We could hear them overhead before they struck. We only did half day schooling and the other half, of the day was spent working in the fields.
"I used to watch the Spitfires and Hurricanes go overheard and love the thrill of hearing the Merlin engine. I remember thinking one day I’ll fly one of them, so I became an airman."
The Fund has supported 88-year-old Reg Lawrence, who served in the RAF from 1951 to 1954, in a number of ways. Reg is a proud user of the Fund’s Telephone Friendship Group service, which helps older people experiencing social isolation and loneliness. It does so by providing access to peer support and friendship through a weekly phone call at a set time, all from the comfort of their own home.
He said the service provides a lifeline for him as the complex he lives in has been locked down. Residents are not allowed to leave and no visitors are permitted to keep them all shielded from COVID-19.
Reg explained: "Without the Fund I'd spend all day on my own. I live day to day, I have not left this flat other than to go out in the grounds for the last five weeks."
The Fund has also supported Reg by providing him with a number of mobility aids, such as a scooter and a recliner riser chair, both of which allow him to be more comfortable and independent in his day-to-day life.