She first visited circa 1986 to attend the open day at Gifford House, Worthing (The Queen Alexandra Hospital Home for Ex-Servicemen). At that time the late Major General Sir Philip Ward, KCVO, CBE, High Sheriff of West Sussex, and a Deputy Lieutenant, was the home’s chairman. Ed Bacon and the late Ian Holle were fellow directors. All three later became founder members of the Friends of Clapham and Patching Churches.
Vera Lynn had accepted the invitation to Gifford House, anticipating that she would be driven to lunch and then to the open day. At the time Ed had a vintage Rolls Royce, and this was used to bring her to lunch at Patching. She lunched at The Old Rectory and she then left for Gifford House, whilst her husband spent the afternoon in the company of Beverley’s parents at Wellcroft. Beverley’s dad had looked forward to meeting Dame Vera as he was a great fan of hers. Although he enjoyed the outing he was very disappointed that he spent time with the husband, and not with the lady he admired.
Vera Lynn’s second visit was on 15th June 1989, when she came to open the Patching church fete, which was held in the Wards’ garden at The Old Rectory, Patching. Sir Philip was Patching churchwarden at the time. The photograph above (courtesy of Margaret Cornford) shows Vera Lynn and Sir Philip talking to the late Miss Eileen Cornford.
(From the Friends of Clapham and Patching Churches)
Dame Vera Lynn raised Britain's spirits throughout World War II with her songs - and she did so again only recently with her duet with Katherine Jenkins, and her 'greatest hits' album reached the charts only a few weeks before she died, in June, at the age of 103.
It transpires that Vera Lynn has connections with the people of Clapham and Patching.