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Britain’s Got Talent stars D-Day Darlings urge ‘bulldog spirit’ amid outbreak

The singing group have recorded a song celebrating Dame Vera Lynn’s 103rd birthday.

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The D-Day Darlings (Ian West/PA)

The D-Day Darlings (Ian West/PA)

The D-Day Darlings (Ian West/PA)

Britain’s Got Talent finalists the D-Day Darlings have urged the public to look to the wartime generation “who are made with that bulldog spirit” amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The singing group, who competed on the ITV reality show in 2018, are releasing Sweetheart, an ode to Dame Vera Lynn to mark her 103rd birthday on Friday.

The song features on an expanded version of their album I’ll Remember You, which is being released to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

Founder and lead singer Katie Ashby said the older generation would be most affected by the virus and subsequent nationwide self-isolation.

Dame Vera Lynn interview
Dame Vera Lynn (Decca Records/PA)

She told the PA news agency: “People are going to be losing that physical connection with so many people and we have got to keep them going.

“The older generation, veterans, people who are 70-plus – that is the audience that we are most connected to with our music because they, first and foremost, understand all these songs.

“They have been there through the war, they have been there through all the dark times and I think we need to look to that spirit.

“We need to look to those people who are made with that bulldog spirit, and that great British attitude to things.

“We need to be learning from them as well. We need to be helping them, protecting them, looking after them and making sure they are safe.

“That is the most important thing for us as the D-Day Darlings. It is to keep their spirits up as best we can.”

The first edition of I’ll Remember You featured two original songs as well as reworkings of numbers such as We’ll Meet Again by Dame Vera.

The D-Day Darlings, who perform in period military uniforms, began as a trio singing in elderly care homes a decade ago.

Britain’s Got Talent 2018
The D-Day Darlings ahead of the final of Britain’s Got Talent (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Ashby later recruited additional members from all around the country before auditioning for the 12th series of Britain’s Got Talent.

She said she wanted listeners to “first and foremost” think of Dame Vera when they heard Sweetheart.

Ashby said: “We have chosen lyrics that really resonate. For example, the opening line is: ‘For a smile that can win a war.’

“She was renowned for her smile and people said that she won the war, alongside everyone else of course.

“But we also want people to think about their own sweetheart as well.

“It could be their grandmother, their grandfather, a teacher, a nurse – anyone that has helped them through hard times. At the moment, that is so relevant.

“We want people to understand the song is about Dame Vera and everything she brought to the country and the world, but also continue that and think of their own sweetheart.

“Anyone who helps. A carer, someone that looks after people and is a really strong person.”

Dame Vera’s daughter Virginia Lewis Jones said: “We think the song is absolutely beautiful and so appropriate for my mother.

“Katie has definitely caught the feel of my mother’s sincerity towards this country and the rest of the world.”

A raft of events celebrating the 75th anniversary of VE Day have been cancelled or postponed amid the outbreak.

Ashby said the D-Day Darlings were working with the British Legion on alternative plans, some of which could be held remotely.

The deluxe version of I’ll Remember You is released on Friday May 8.

PA