It was fantastic to see Chester on national television and plastered over the national papers as residents in the Garden Quarter led by Matt Baker (who else!) celebrated the 75th anniversary of VE day.
Commemorations were muted this year as the coronavirus lockdown prevented social gatherings. The allies delivered ‘Victory in Europe’ and defeated fascism and ushered in a new world, at home and across our continent.
The political leaders of the time and in the immediate post war future had all experienced the horrors of war first-hand: Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee; later names such as Edward Heath and Dennis Healy. And so, whereas it was right to celebrate the defeat of murderous Nazism, they were also determined to build a just and lasting peace after two world wars in four decades.
So, for me, VE Day 75 was a chance to give thanks for the sacrifice of the men and women who won our freedom. But also, to remember the lessons of how Germany was allowed to be taken over by fascists and ensure it can never happen again.
My late parents were children during the war. Both were bombed; in my mum’s case some houses in her street were destroyed.
I always remind myself that we now know that World War Two ended in Europe on May 8th 1945, and that we, the allies, were victorious.
But at the time, my parents and everyone else did not know this, for much of the war there was no end in sight. That uncertainty and fear must have dominated everything.
And it feels the same now, in 2020, with the corona virus crisis.
We do not know when it will be safe again. We do not know when shops and pubs will reopen. We do not know when we can see our parents and grandparents safely and in person again.
If we had an idea of when this will end, it would be easier to cope with.
We also need clarity from government, because guidance is easier to deal with when it is clear and unambiguous. I am afraid from Boris Johnson this week we have seen the usual bluster and blarney but no detail. His chaotic approach will not help save lives.
But at the end of this crisis we will have a chance to reshape our country and the world, just as our grandparents did 75 years ago.
I hope we will remember the importance of working together. Of sharing and caring and looking after each other, and of valuing and paying for quality public services. If we can get through this crisis, we can create a better world.