Showbiz figures come together to pay tribute to 'forces sweetheart' Vera Lynn

A photo of Dame Vera Lynn ahead of the Service of Thanksgiving for the Forces sweetheart. Dame Vera became famous in wartime for songs such as We'll Meet Again that caught the national mood and helped boost morale. Credit: PA

Family, friends and stars from the world of show business have paid tribute to Dame Vera Lynn at a thanksgiving service in Westminster Abbey.

The singer lived for much of her life in the village of Ditchling in Sussex, where she passed away in June 2020 at the age of 103.

Her career as a singer and entertainer lasted a remarkable 90 years and she released new albums up until her 100th birthday.

The service celebrated her life and work and also included guests representing the many charities she had worked with as well as members of the Armed Forces.

During the thanksgiving service, the central band of the Royal British Legion greeted attendees on arrival and played out their departure.

The RBL was one of many charities Dame Vera supported and she was also actively involved in community life in Sussex.

TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh gave a personal remembrance to Dame Vera while broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby reflected on the late singer's close connection with the Armed Forces.

Also among the performers were singer Katie Ashby and the D-Day Darlings who performed Dame Vera's classic The White Cliffs of Dover. The wartime singer's former personal assistant Susan Fleet read a poem titled Goodnight Sweetheart by Michael Claughton.

Lyricist Sir Tim Rice also gave a bible reading from Corinthians and actor Anthony Andrews delivered a tribute to his late friend.

Dame Vera's daughter Virginia Lewis at the service in Westminster Abbey. Credit: PA

Operatic singer Katherine Jenkins closed the service by giving an emotional rendition of We'll Meet Again in an elegant light blue dress with a navy and silver headpiece, which was followed by the national anthem.

Famous faces also in attendance included TV and panto star Christopher Biggins, actress Bonnie Langford, TV presenter Baroness Floella Benjamin and TV star Debbie McGee.

The service was conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle.

Dame Vera captured the hearts of the nation during the Second World War with her uplifting musical performances and recordings.

D-Day Darlings performed Dame Vera's classic The White Cliffs of Dover. Credit: PA

Dame Vera's most popular songs encapsulated the spirit of Britain during wartime and included We'll Meet Again and A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square.

The star's successful career continued long after the war, with her cover of the song My Son, My Son reaching number one on the UK single charts in 1954.

In 2009, at the age of 92, Dame Vera became the oldest living artist to top the UK's album chart with We'll Meet Again: The Very Best of Vera Lynn.