D-Day 70: Sunset Southsea performance is fitting tribute to heroes

Ollie Hall

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AS the sun set Southsea Common came alive with majestic melodies that delivered a fitting tribute to our heroes.

Hundreds watched and listened in awe as the renowned Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra wowed crowds during their Concert For Heroes.

John Ilsley, 77, from Portsmouth, at The Sunset Concert for Heroes.''Picture: Sarah Standing (141628-8551)

John Ilsley, 77, from Portsmouth, at The Sunset Concert for Heroes.''Picture: Sarah Standing (141628-8551)

D-Day veterans and their relatives were rightly guests of honour at the concert, which resounded across the common as the day’s commemorations drew to a close.

The powerful programme featured rousing performances of scores from films including Star Wars and Superman.

Several spectators laid out tables and chairs while others tucked into fish and chips.

Some brought picnic baskets and blankets along, settling down to soak up the atmosphere as people young and old enjoyed the music and reflected.

In the midst of the audience, a Union flag flew high above the crowd.

Veteran John Isley, 77, of All Saints’ Road, Buckland, Portsmouth, who served as a corporal from 1955 to 1960 said: ‘It’s been very good.

‘I like the music but I’m still feeling sorry for the lads who got killed over in Normandy and Dunkirk.

‘My father George died in Dunkirk.

‘I’ve been emotional because of my father and a few of my colleagues who got killed in Suez.

‘I’m very proud of the men who went to Normandy.’

He was due to take part in a D-Day parade along Southsea seafront today.

Eva Beale, 88, of Southsea, went to the concert with her daughter Janet Haydon, 53, also from Southsea.

Mrs Beale said of the D-Day anniversary commemorations: ‘They’ve made it good. A lot of work has gone into it.’

Veteran John Gray, 76, of Southsea, attended the concert with wife Wendy, also 76.

He served in the RAF from 1957 to 1965 before spending four years as a missionary in Africa, later joining British Airways.

He said: ‘We were determined to be down here.

‘We came down and watched the whole thing, then watched the Red Arrows.

‘I was an RAF pilot myself and used to do a lot of good formation flying. I passionately loved it.’

Jackie Gorman, 52, from Eastney, said: ‘The thing that struck me about the seafront today was just how proud everybody was about it.

‘We saw the best of British coming out in everybody.’

Click here for details of the 70th anniversary supplement published by The News to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day