VIDEO: Toasts raised to mark VE Day 75

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Borderers commemorated the 75th anniversary of VE Day in memorable fashion on Friday despite the current coronavirus lockdown.

Much like on May 8, 1945, homes and streets were bedecked in red, white and blue as people across the region held tea parties and raised a glass to those who fought for our freedom during the Second World War.

But unlike that day, which saw thousands of people take to the streets to celebrate the end of the 1939-1945 conflict in Europe, there was no hugging or dancing with neighbours due to social distancing restrictions in place to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

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However in true British make-do style, and much like during those wartime days, Borderers carried on and made the best of the situation, holding individual tea parties, dancing on their doorsteps and raising a glass across the fence with neighbours.

Sophie Errington, 8,  and Olivia Errington, 3, celebrate at home dressed as evacuees in Galashiels.Sophie Errington, 8,  and Olivia Errington, 3, celebrate at home dressed as evacuees in Galashiels.
Sophie Errington, 8, and Olivia Errington, 3, celebrate at home dressed as evacuees in Galashiels. | JPIMedia

In Bonchester Bridge, that wartime spirit was celebrated to a soundtrack of period music played from a van travelling around the village’s streets and local care home encouraging residents to have a singalong and dance from within the confines of their gardens.

Meanwhile in Denholm, residents laid decorative stones at the village war memorial in memory of both those who both died and those who returned home after the war.

And although it was not what was originally planned, Denholm Community Council chairwoman Gwen Crew said the day brought the village together during the lockdown.

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“I thought it was important, with people being asked not to congregate, that they were able to lay their tribute, in the form of stones, in their own time.

“It was a shame we couldn’t follow through with our original functions which included a party, dance and afternoon tea.

“However, it was good to have Derek Lammie, Michael Bruce, Donna Gibson, Kelly Mackay, George Thom and Charlie Stuart from the pipe band play at 3pm. That 15 minutes was the main part of the celebrations and what the day was really about. It remembered the fallen as well as the heroes of the Second World War that did come home.”

In Kelso, musician John Mabon played the Last Post at 11am from his garden in Forestfield, and later that evening his wife Gwen led the singing of wartime songs, amplified along the length of the street as neighbours set up decorated and socially-distant home bars on the pavement.

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The couple, both involved with Kelso Amateur Operatic Society for many years, felt this was a chance to entertain others on an important date.

Their daughter Ashley said: “With respect for social distancing, it was an occasion that will be remembered by all despite these unprecedented times.”

Selkirk Ex-Soldiers’ Association chairman David Deacon laid a wreath at his home in front of its standards at 11am before Ryan Borthwick played the Last Post outside his house in Dovecot Park.

Both Mr Deacon and Selkirk Parish Church minister Margaret Steele followed the lead of Legion Scotland and took to social media to share their messages of thanks for those who fought in the war while also paying tribute to the town’s resilience volunteers during this lockdown.

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In Jedburgh, a wreath was laid at the war memorial, and David Lightbody, of Jedforest Instrumental Band played alongside the town’s pipe major, Tosh MacDonald, at 3pm.

Elsewhere in the region pipers played When the Battle’s O’er at 3pm as people joined a nationwide toast.

And in Peebles, war veteran John McOwan, 99, enjoyed a performance on the pipes by neighbour Sally Swinney.

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