Wigan plans largest VE Day celebrations in the city region

Wigan is hoping to host the biggest celebration of the 75th anniversary of VE Day across all of Greater Manchester.

Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 7:30 am
Updated Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 7:32 am
Last year's Wigan Armed Forces Day

Parades, street parties, church services and a carnival atmosphere will aim to bring the whole borough together at Mesnes Park across three days in May.

There are also plans to create a military village, complete with Second World War-era vehicles, and enlist musicians to take to the bandstand to play songs from the era.

The event will be held over the bank holiday weekend, which will move to May 8 to coincide with the historic day that Nazi Germany surrendered to the Allied forces in 1945.

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Coun David Molyneux, leader of Wigan Council

Coun David Molyneux, leader of Wigan council, said it had the potential of drawing visitors from much further afield.

“It’s significant because it’s not just a Wigan borough event, it’s going to be regional and we’re hoping people will come from across the north west.” he told cabinet colleagues on January 23.

“We should give recognition and our thanks to the people that made the major sacrifice, and it’s important that we’re seen to be doing that on behalf of the borough.

“It’s going to be a tremendous weekend.”

The VE Day events will include solemn commemorations for the fallen

Veterans who find it difficult to travel from the more remote areas of Wigan borough would be given transport to Mesnes Park, says a council report.

Community groups would be given money to hold their own commemorations at local cenotaphs on Sunday, but will also be invited to set up themed areas at the main event.

The event, which is still in the planning stages, is expected to cost Wigan council £15,000, with the borough’s Armed Forces HQ securing £5,000 in donations.

A two-day event is needed in order to secure in-demand military attractions including a Spitfire flyover, according to a council report.

It adds: “VE Day marked an historic moment in not only our nation’s, but the world’s history and it is important that we commemorate this great occasion on its 75th anniversary.

“Bringing the whole borough together for a central celebration will also allow for the funding available to support an event that has the most significant impact for the borough.”

Headquarters North West, the regional command of the British Army based in Preston, is also supporting the event and treating it as one of the main VE Day events in Greater Manchester.

One of the units in its command is the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, which will be presented with the freedom of Wigan borough at a ceremony in April.