Colin Thackery pays tribute to Dame Vera Lynn in new documentary

By Laura Harding, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Britain’s Got Talent winner Colin Thackery pays tribute to Dame Vera Lynn in a new documentary about the Forces’ Sweetheart.

The Chelsea Pensioner recalls the first time he heard the singer on the radio when he was a child in a new film which will be unveiled alongside a new portrait of the star at the Royal Albert Hall.

He said: “Dame Vera was, and is, a beacon of hope.

“Throughout World War Two, she touched the hearts of our nation.

Colin Thackery (Rebecca Campbell)

“British troops would be off to war, parting (with) their loved ones.

“Very little could actually provide them comfort – but somehow she was this comfort! Not just for troops, but those waving them off, too. Her music was significant for everyone.

“Her songs brought a piece of home to troops during dark times…and, her photo brought a smile or two!

“Whenever I hear her songs – especially We’ll Meet Again – my heart just warms a little bit more.”

Thackery won the ITV singing show after performing Dame Vera’s wartime hit and his album features a duet between the pair.

He said: “I have sung her songs all my life and still do now at the Royal Hospital!

“They bring about such a great sense of hope, and always make me incredibly emotional.

“It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, at the age of 89!”

Thackery will also unveil the new portrait, by Norwegian artist Ross Kolby, on January 13.

Ross Kolby (Rebecca Campbell)

The work, entitled Portrait of a Nation and features a number of symbols representing many of her life events, including a BBC microphone and the white cliffs of Dover.

It also features a spitfire and a poppy and the night sky displaying the constellations that Dame Vera saw whilst entertaining troops in Dimapur, India, on June 6 1944.

Kolby said: “I painted Dame Vera in her very own 102-year-old universe.

“She’s in the centre, like the sun – and has elements pointing to her life surrounding her, floating weightlessly.

“I did a lot of research on her career, and to be honest, it was really hard to drill down into what to include…she’s done so much!

“She still remains incredibly humble, showing how much of a true national treasure she is.”

Dame Vera added: “Every time I look at the painting, I see a new detail. Ross has perfectly captured my career in a single picture.

“Having performed at the Royal Albert Hall more than fifty times over the years, there seems no other perfect home for such an incredibly well-thought-out piece.”

The documentary Dame Vera Lynn: The Voice Of A Nation has been made by The London Mint Office to celebrate Dame Vera’s life and work and will premiere at the Royal Albert Hall when the portrait is unveiled.

Dame Vera’s daughter Virginia Lewis-Jones (Rebecca Campbell)

They will accompany a collection of coins dedicated to Dame Vera in tribute to her famous songs, including a free We’ll Meet Again coin.

Dame Vera said: “I’ve always idolised Her Majesty, for looking after Britain. So, to have such a huge part of my life placed onto a coin, next to the Queen, is remarkable.”

Dame Vera Lynn: The Voice Of A Nation will be available to view on the London Mint Office’s YouTube channel from January 14.