Stenhousemuir great-gran gets to celebrate after London VE Day trip cancelled

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A family laid on a special surprise for a great-gran who missed out on a trip to London to take part in VE Day commemorations.

Helen Burness, who will be 95 next week, had been invited to take part in a weekend of events organised by the British Legion to mark the 7th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.

She had been due to travel to the capital with daughter Helen Wright and was supposed to be going to a gala dinner and an event in St James Park.

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Sadly, the coronavirus pandemic saw all events to mark the 75th anniversary cancelled and Helen was left disappointed not to be making the trip.

However, her daughter and granddaughters had other plans and arranged a gathering for family and neighbours in Jamieson Avenue, Stenhousemuir – observing all the rules of social distancing.

Daughter Helen, who also lives in Stenhousemuir, said: “Mum had really been looking forward to going and was terribly disappointed when we heard it was not going ahead.

“However, we’ve arranged some flowers, a piper and a small party to mark the occasion and give her a surprise.”

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Helen added that her mum had been asked to provide some information to the British Legion ahead of her planned trip and this had given her family a lot of information they hadn’t know before.

She said: “Mum was in the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) and trained in Dalkeith before heading by ship to Naples.

“She worked as a clerk in the office that dealt with those who were coming out to entertain the troops. She remembered meeting Gracie Fields and said she was a lovely lady.”

But more importantly she met husband-to-be Billy who was in Naples with the Army and the couple were engaged on Helen’s 21st birthday.

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They initially lived in Bellshill, moving to Stenhousemuir in 1972 where Bill was the building officer for Central Regional Council and Helen worked in the offices at Bellsdyke Hospital.

Joining the family party were daughter Helen and husband Ron Wright, granddaughters Gillian Ryan and Catherine Myhill with husbands Stuart and John, and great-grandchildren Logan Ryan (2), and Ashleigh (6) and James (3) Myhill.

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