A SMALL town with a big heart has planned to celebrate VE Day from a social distance, after its once in a generation street party was cancelled.

Manningtree Town Council intended to host the street party of the decade today to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

There was set to be a host of food and drinks stalls, dancing, live entertainment, a parade and a commemorative service at Manningtree’s war memorial.

However, since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, plans to celebrate the anniversary had to be shelved.

But not all hope is lost.

People have been invited to commemorate the Second World War generation and celebrate the anniversary of the Victory in Europe at a distance.

Sharon Robinson, welfare representative of the Royal British Legion’s Manningtree branch, said people will be still celebrating but from their own homes.

She said: “I’m gutted the street party had to be cancelled, same goes for the parade, but that doesn’t stop the remembrance of VE Day going on.

“Although it will not be commemorated with a street party anymore, people will be still celebrating.

“A lot of people will be putting bunting up and are going to have a cream tea afternoon.

“As Mistley, Lawford and Manningtree homes have got front gardens, a lot of residents will be decorating their gardens.

“It’s a small village, with a strong community spirit and you can imagine what effect the war had on our community.

“Every family lost a family member, be that a father, brother or a child and they should never be forgotten.”

Previously, the town commemorated VE Day every single year without fail with a parade and a special service at the war memorial.

“We had services for the past seven years, where army cadets, air cadets, the Freemasons, the first responders and whole families came together,” she added.

“We are a passionate community and the younger generation supports it greatly.

“We had years when about 500 children came together.

“They always come to the parade and service- the support from families and children is absolutely phenomenal.”

Dale Cheesman, secretary of the Royal British Legion’s Harwich branch, said she was sad celebrations had been cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

But, she said, it is important to celebrate VE Day no matter the circumstances.

A VE Day wreath laying ceremony has already taken place in Manningtree where Sharon and Jamie Robinson and the mayor Ruth Stock paid their respects on behalf of the community.

Harwich deputy mayor Ivan Henderson has also laid a wreath at the Dovercourt memorial on behalf of the Harwich Town Council.

He said: “I hope people will take advantage of this time of a lockdown to actually show their thoughts to this very important occasion and commemoration.

“I’d like to encourage people to get involved in whatever way they can possibly do so, following social distancing measures.

“I would urge residents to recognise this day and recognise the sacrifice people made during the war to provide the freedom we all enjoy to this day.”

The wreaths will be replaced today at all war memorials.

To watch Tendring Council’s virtual ceremony go to facebook.com/TendringDC/.