Blog: Sir Winston's living legacy 75 years after VE Day
Published: 7 May 2020
On the 75th anniversary of VE Day, our Chairman Jeremy Soames reflects on the living legacy of his grandfather, Sir Winston Churchill.
Seventy-five years ago this week, my grandfather Sir Winston Churchill stood on a balcony in Parliament Street to address the huge crowds gathered in celebration of VE Day. It was the end of a period of national crisis, when the whole country had pulled together in a magnificent effort despite hardship and sacrifice. In recognition of this, Sir Winston told the cheering multitudes: “My dear friends, this is your hour. This is not victory of a party or of any class. It’s a victory of the great British nation as a whole.”
That is the spirit in which the present national emergency is being approached by millions of people throughout the UK. Among them are hundreds of Churchill Fellows, members of a national network that was set up as the living legacy of Sir Winston, on his death in 1965. Every year since then, the Fellowship has enabled men and women from all backgrounds and professions to do something extraordinary for their country.
In today’s urgent situation, the Fellows' contribution to the national effort is indeed remarkable. They are flying medical supplies to remote areas, turning cafes into food banks, training students as paramedics, housing vulnerable rough sleepers, providing online mentors for mental health, advising schools on awarding qualifications, increasing domestic abuse services and much more.
"I believe my grandfather would have been immensely proud of what today's Churchill Fellows are achieving in his name, in the greatest challenge our nation has faced since the war." - Jeremy Soames, Chairman
These Fellows are proven experts in their fields, working on the frontline and making an impact where it is most needed. I believe my grandfather would have been immensely proud of what today's Churchill Fellows are achieving in his name, during the greatest challenge our nation has faced since the war.
To support them in these vital activities, last week we launched a new Covid-19 Action Fund. This will provide over £250,000 worth of grants for work to mitigate the effects of the pandemic across all parts of our society. And as the country moves towards recovery, we will capture the lessons learnt from the Fellows, to create a body of recommendations that can be used for future prevention and resilience at national and international levels.
This is our contribution to the present national emergency - and to the future restoration of our society. For we remember too, from Sir Winston’s speech on that great day in 1945, his closing words: “I rejoice we can all take a night off today and another day tomorrow.... After that we must begin the task of rebuilding our hearth and homes, doing our utmost to make this country a land in which all have a chance, in which all have a duty, and we must turn ourselves to fulfill our duty to our own countrymen.”