Dame Vera's nearly 100...but where did it all begin?

Dame Vera Lynn becomes oldest artist in history to release a new album

Islanders to perform for Dame Vera Lynn at 100th birthday celebrations

A 350 foot image of the singer - who is widely known as the Forces' Sweetheart - will be seen in Kent and Spitfires will fly overhead to honour her famous 1942 song White Cliffs of Dover.

The landmark - the last sight of Britain for soldiers heading off to war and the first for those who returned - was immortalised by Dame Vera in a song that evokes the spirit of 1940s Britain even in people too young to remember.

She also celebrated her birthday yesterday with a charity concert showcasing some of the best of British talent at the London Palladium.

"Dame Vera Lynn has written a number of iconic songs which many residents are likely to have grown up listening to".

During her early 20s Dame Vera earned herself the name of the Forces' Sweetheart after she travelled long distances, often at great personal risk, to entertain troops and provide them with messages of hope.

She was awarded with the British War Medal 1939-45 and the Burma Star.

The image of the singer was commissioned to mark Dame Vera's special birthday on the 20th March, and the release of her new album, Vera Lynn 100, which features re-orchestrated versions of her most popular songs alongside her original vocals. During the height of the war, she was given her own radio show in which she sent messages to British soldiers serving overseas.

She is already the oldest living artist to land a United Kingdom number one album and her recording company, Decca, hopes she will extend that record with the new album.

"I wonder if she ever heard me on the radio after that".

"I feel so blessed to have reached this milestone and I can't think of a more meaningful way to mark the occasion".

In 2000, she was named the Briton who best exemplified the spirit of the 20th century and a year ago she was made a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour in Her Majesty's Birthday Honours list. The one-off spectacular raised funds for her children's charity and features Armstrong and singers Blake and Hayley Westenra.

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