D-Day anniversary: Residents proud of city’s commemorations

There was a sense of pride among thousands of Portsmouth residents at Southsea Common as the eyes of the world watched the national D-Day 75 commemorations unfold.

Wednesday, 5th June 2019, 4:26 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th June 2019, 5:04 pm
Nicky Child from Little Spuds with the children she was child-minding.

As world leaders looked on, many emotional residents eagerly followed the historical ceremony on big screens outside the main stage’s walls. 

Tracey Dobson, from Portsmouth, said she took the week off work especially for the week’s D-Day events. 

The 54-year-old said: ‘We have been looking forward to this event for a while.

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Nicky Child from Little Spuds with the children she was child-minding.

‘I was born 19 years after the war finished. My parents lived through it and I remember hearing all about it.

‘It was such an important event and should be taught more in schools.

Tracey, who was on the common with her daughter Laura Kelly, said they had both been to D-Day 50 and 60 celebrations – but this was the best yet. 

Laura, 31, added: ‘I liked how the ceremony encompassed all countries and supported the veterans.’

Luan Paynter holding her nephew seven-week-old Stanley Booth with her son Jenson Roberts.

While many visitors enjoyed the readings by The Queen, Donald Trump, Theresa May, Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron, hundreds of residents were volunteering to ensure the event ran smoothly. 

Sue Green, from Southsea, was just one volunteer during the day.

She said: 'I wanted to volunteer today because I live in Portsmouth and it's such a big celebration. I think that so many people will be coming here and we need to show the city in the best possible light.

'Today is perhaps more significant than other D-Day commemorations because we don't know if all the veterans will be at the next one – that's what it was like with First World War commemorations, gradually there were less and less.’ 

Sue Green, 63, from Southsea

But for many, the importance of educating younger generations about the event was vital to keeping the memory alive. 

Mum Luan Paynter was watching the ceremony with her four-year-old son Jenson. 

Luan, 31, said: ‘It’s really good for Portsmouth and it’s important that the memory of D-Day lives on.’ 

‘I really enjoyed it. I liked watching the planes,’ adds Jenson. 

Tracey Dobson and her daughter Laura Kelly.

Among the other young children at the common was Nicky Child with her child-minding group called Little Spuds. 

‘I’ve brought the children I’m child-minding along today because it’s really important for them to see it. I have absolutely loved it.

‘It’s our children’s future and it’s their country.

‘We have to share our history with them – it’s too important.’