SEVENTY five years ago the country celebrated defeating the Nazi enemy on VE Day, but a killer just as deadly — coronavirus — was not going to stop town councils in Sandown Bay marking the anniversary with their own scaled down celebration.

The mayors and councils of Sandown and Shanklin joined forces to encourage residents to continue to follow the public health guidance and take time, safely, to commemorate and celebrate the 75th anniversary.

Children in the Bay area did their bit by designing a commemorative mug, while a video was produced with messages from the Island's Lord Lieutenant, Susie Sheldon, Island archdeacon, the Ven Peter Leonard and IW Royal British Legion president, Ian Ward.

Isle of Wight County Press: The VE day tale of Col Tony Aylmer, of Bembridge, far right, featured in the video.The VE day tale of Col Tony Aylmer, of Bembridge, far right, featured in the video.

Hundreds of primary school children of Broadlea, Gatten and Lake, The Bay CE, Newchurch, Wroxall and St Helens had, before the pandemic, taken part in a competition to design their own VE Day mug.

With lockdown preventing the presentation of mugs to a winning child from each school, these were forwarded on.

The Bay councils contributed to a special film, which was published online on VE Day via YouTube (below)

The 18-minute film, produced by Richard Priest and the IW Film Club, paid tribute to the fallen and those who fought in the Second World War, looked back at how the nation celebrated the first VE Day and in Shanklin for the 50th anniversary in 1995, and paid tribute to the frontline workers battling Covid-19 today.

It also included the memories of Col Tony Aylmer, 94, who served with 3rd Battalion Irish Guards in May 1945, now a resident of The Elms care home, Bembridge.

Mrs Sheldon thanked everyone who marked the 75th anniversary by decorating their homes with flags and bunting, or holding stay-at-home parties in the wartime spirit.

She said: "We've all been hoping to relive the celebrations of 75 years ago, but current events remind us of how uncertain life can be.

"For those of you alone and worried at the moment, VE Day is a reminder there is an end to everything and we should look forward to the future with hope.

"Just as at the end of the war, life did not immediately return to normal, so the weeks ahead will be difficult for all of us.

"But for the moment, try to forget the present, enjoy the past and imagine joining in the celebrations on the Island 75 years ago — or even 25 years ago, when we celebrated the 50th anniversary."

The archdeacon gave his poignant message to the people of the Island, with prayer and tribute to the fallen, saying it had not been the commemoration he had envisaged.

"We gather only virtually, but still joyfully, as those who gathered on that first VE Day — glad of one another and grateful for the love and laughter that follows times of sadness and loss," he said.

Sandown mayor, Cllr Gary Young, said: "We are grateful to residents for respecting the public health guidance, available on our websites, and for all of the community efforts to support vulnerable and disadvantaged residents through our helpline and volunteering."

His counterpart in Shanklin, Cllr Steve Knight, echoed his sentiments.

"We had planned a range of events to commemorate and celebrate VE Day, including working with local schools to produce commemorative mugs, designed by pupils, a church service and other celebrations — but the current situation didn't allow this."

Cllr Knight added: "In the most difficult of times, Gary and I and our councils hope the community participated safely in the 75th anniversary, whether it be joining an online singalong, throwing a party in their own home or observing the two minutes' silence at 11am on May 8, to respect and remember the events of 75 years ago, as well as recognise the efforts of so many individuals today."