ONE Sunderland family has more reason than most to give out three cheers for VE Day.
Three generations of the Parker family were all born on May 8, and all have Victoria incorporated into their name as a nod to victory.
Carol Victoria Parker, of Wear View Estate, was the first baby born in Sunderland on VE Day at 12.30am, as the then town celebrated the end of the Second Word War. It’s a double celebration for her today as the grandma turns 70.
But she isn’t the only Parker woman with a special connection to the milestone date.
Her daughter Victoria Littlemore, of Town End Farm, was born on VE Day 47 years ago. And granddaughter Melissa Victoria Simpson was born on May 8 twenty years ago.
Carol’s youngest daughter, Joanne Simpson, 45, almost made it four-times the celebration, She was due on May 8, but arrived early on April 27.
The family are all gathering tonight at Sunderland Greyhound Stadium to mark the triple birthday.
Melissa, of Teal Farm, Washington, said: “It’s always a big celebration when the whole family gets together. From a young age I’ve always known about our connection to VE Day, on birthdays we’d have all the press round, so I knew it was special.
“It’s handy as we never forget each other’s birthdays, but it’s a bit of a nightmare for the rest of the family as they have to buy three presents at once.
“It’s a particularly special day for nana, as she turns 70 this year.”
She added: “I think it’s great that there’s lots being done to mark VE Day this year, it’s something that should always be remembered.”
Speaking about her daughter Victoria’s birth, on May 8, 1968, Carol said: “She wasn’t expected that day. She was supposed to be born at the beginning of June.
“I was very shocked. I could remember lying in hospital thinking I was going to buy something for my birthday and had a baby instead, but she was fabulous.” Recalling Melissa’s birth, which made it three times lucky, Carol said: “I can remember my younger daughter Joanne taking bad the night before, but then her labour wore off.
“We had all been out that night and we call about 20 past twelve to say she felt bad again.
“At about 4.30am in the morning we were told we had a new grandchild on our birthday again. We just couldn’t believe it.”
Shining Light at Cliffe Park
THE SKIES of Wearside will light up tonight as part of national celebrations for VE Day.
To mark today’s 70th anniversary of the Allied Forces’ victory in Europe, more than 200 gas fuelled beacons will be lit around the country, with Seaburn’s Cliffe Park chosen as the venue in Sunderland.
The Queen will light the Principal Beacon outside Windsor Castle at 9.30pm, with those around the country lit at 9.32pm in national tribute.
Celebrations in Sunderland begin at 6pm with free entertainment throughout the evening.
Ted Hold, 94, representing veteran’s groups from across the city, will join Mayor of Sunderland Coun Stuart Porthouse to light the beacon, which will be followed by a firework finales.
Ted, who was part of the Airborne Glider Division that took part in the D-Day landings and was serving in the Baltic when VE Day was declared, said: “I’d like everyone to come along and support this event. We should never forget how important both VE and D-Day are in our history, and the tremendous sacrifice made by all those who took part.”
Admission is free and the programme of events includes;
l live music from the main stage with Second World War favourites including ‘We’ll Meet Again’ and ‘White Cliffs of Dover’
l small fairground rides
l veterans and local cadet forces representing all three senior services;
l arts and crafts
l and Second World War exhibitions.
Sunderland City Council Executive Director of People Services Neil Revely said: “We can never underestimate how important VE Day is and all appreciate that the 70th Anniversary is something that we should celebrate.
“What better backdrop than Cliffe Park and our wonderful coastline.
“I hope families from across the city will join us to support this wonderful occasion.
“It’s particularly fitting that veterans have been invited to help light the beacon, which will be one of many lighting up the skies across our country.”
The beacon at Cliffe Park will remain lit for an hour.
Seaham will hold its own ceremony in the shadow of its landmark Tommy artwork, inspired by a First World War soldier, and next to the Terrace Green war memorial.
It will feature a beacon created by the town council and will see deputy mayor Bruce Burn and fellow councillors gather with organisations including the town’s branch of the British Legion, cadet groups and members of the clergy at the foot of the statue.
l Are you attending the Sunderland and Seaham VE Day ceremonies tonight? Email your pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org