On her hundredth birthday, Dame Vera Lynn has praised a Royal Albert Hall project that helps to keep her music alive, while giving a valuable lifeline to elderly people across the country.
The nation’s sweetheart, a hundred years young today, said that Songbook, which sees the venue’s in-house band touring care homes and hospices throughout London and beyond, is an invaluable project for elderly music-lovers.
The hour-long sing-along concert includes music made popular by Frank Sinatra, The Beatles and Dame Vera, alongside stories from the Hall’s history, and now gives more than 2,000 elderly people a year the chance to sing, dance and enjoy a shared social experience.
Dame Vera said: “I’m proud and pleased to be associated with the Royal Albert Hall’s Songbook, which brings live music to those who might not otherwise be able to take part in it, and shares some of my own best-loved songs, including We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover.
“On my hundredth birthday, it’s so lovely to know that these songs which mean so much to me continue to be listened to and enjoyed, and that the Royal Albert Hall can be enjoyed by elderly people regardless of money or mobility.”
Songbook was launched as part of the Royal Albert Hall’s extensive Education & Outreach programme in 2013 and has since visited more than 5,300 elderly people, giving many of them their first experience of live music in years.
Research conducted by the venue last month showed that more than 60 per cent of people in this age group didn’t get the chance to hear as much live music as they’d like – with all its associated benefits – largely due to a lack of money, mobility or suitable concerts.
Flo Schroeder, Education & Outreach Manager at the Royal Albert Hall, said: “We’re delighted to have Dame Vera’s backing for one of our most important and rewarding projects, and to be able to wish her a very happy hundredth birthday from the Royal Albert Hall and all our Songbook residents.”
Dame Vera Lynn has performed on the Hall’s famous stage 50 times throughout her illustrious career, appearing first at the Pitman’s College Prize Giving and Concert in 1937, and most recently at the Dekho! Forty-Ninth and Final Burma Reunion in 1995 (though she attended the Festival of Remembrance as a guest in 2006).
In 2014, Katherine Jenkins performed a virtual duet with Dame Vera – represented in archive footage – at BBC Radio 2’s D-Day 70 Years On, which raised money for charities including the Royal British Legion.