The best spirit of Blighty was out in force on Saturday and Sunday at the tenth anniversary of the fantastic Village At War weekend in Stoke Bruerne, and it was an absolute pleasure to stop by for a couple of hours.
Our great war hero “Winston Churchill” was on hand to inspect the troops and deliver his famous “we shall fight on the beaches” speech, although this time from the balcony rather than from the Despatch Box in Parliament, with his “darling Clementine” steadfastly by his side throughout.
There was a real 40s feel to the event with the Home Guard, Wrens, Air Raid Wardens, Land Army Girls and others working alongside the Free French Forces to show how we fought to keep Britain safe from the Axis Powers. A few spivs were furtively on the move, highlighting the black market that was in operation at the time. Visitors were entertained with vividly authentic WW2 performances from Lola Lamour and others, as well as a flypast by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Of course it wouldn’t be a true Canal Museum event without the inclusion of a flotilla on the water, and they didn’t disappoint at all!
I am also honoured and delighted to have been asked by the Canal & River Trust, who will be taking over the running of the event from next year, to become one of their Patrons, and I look forward to working with them in the coming months and years to celebrate all of the work that they do. As a former Environment Secretary, I am hugely supportive of the Trust and their stewardship of our historic waterways, and I am pleased to join them in protecting this national treasure.