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It was sad news to hear about the death of Dame Vera Lynn at 103.

She was a real Lady who brought a lot of happiness into the world.

I first met Vera Lynn on Sunday 29th October 1994. She was having lunch on the Bluebell Railway with her husband, Harry Lewis.

As I was working there as a waitress, it was my job to serve her.

Before the train started, one of the staff went rushing through the carriages with blood pouring out of her head. She’d bumped it on an open cupboard door.

‘Give her Ready Remedy,’ instructed Dame Vera calmly, producing a bottle from out of her handbag.

Drama over, off we set. They’d ordered the Sunday Roast with all the trimmings. ‘No meat for me, thank you,’ said Dame Vera, ‘I’m a vegetarian. But I will have gravy on my Yorkshire puddings.’

‘It’s nice to have some meat for a change,’ her husband joked while she glared at him lovingly.

At the end of the trip up the line and back, I rushed to their table and they were already getting off. ‘Oh, I said.

Dame Vera looked round. ‘Is everything alright?’ she called.

‘I was hoping to get your autograph,’ I replied, a bit nervously.

‘Have you got anything for me to write on?’ she said.

‘Um, no,’ I replied, looking around me. Then I grabbed a menu.

‘Have you got a pen?’ she asked, knowing that I hadn’t.

‘No.’

‘I have,’ she sighed, producing a gold one from her bag, as she probably did hundreds of times.

So that’s how I got Vera Lynn’s autograph.

vera

I met her again in late 1999. She’d lost her husband the year before, and then evil burglars broke into her Ditchling home, smashing through her French windows and ransacking the place before escaping with irreplaceable Wartime souvenirs.

Dame Vera was out at a children’s charity event at the time when it happened.

She was at Ardingly with her daughter when I met her a few days after the burglary and she looked a bit unwell.

I introduced myself and she said, ‘Oh yes, I remember.’ She obviously did or she wouldn’t have said do.

Then I told her that I was shocked to hear about the burglary and I thought they were evil scum. Her daughter nodded.

‘I won’t tell you what I’d like to do to them if I got hold of them,’ she replied.

Now that Dame Vera has died, do take care if you buy any memorabilia online as it could be stolen.

I hope the police are watching carefully.

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