RESIDENTS in West Cheshire are being encouraged to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day with their own stay at home parties.

Civic commemoration events across the borough to mark the important milestone on May 8 had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But community leaders say that shouldn't mean residents can't pay tribute to our war heroes and celebrate 75 years since the end of the Second World War.

They are urging people to decorate their homes in red, white and blue, and enjoy a party with members of their own household, in order to adhere to lockdown rules.

Over the bank holiday weekend Chester Town Hall will be decorated in Union Flags and lit up red, white and blue, while the cathedral will still take part in the national ringing out for peace at 7pm on the anniversary.

The Lord Mayor of Chester, the chairman of Cheshire West and Chester Council and Chester Cathedral have all come together to pre-record a civic VE Day service, which will be available to watch online.

Military Personnel, local dignitaries, clergy and schoolchildren have all contributed to the short service which has been recorded from their personal locations, including on board HMS Albion.

The Lord Mayor of Chester, councillor Mark Williams said: "I was saddened by the news that the civic events to commemorate VE Day were having to be cancelled but I was still keen to mark this special anniversary and it was an honour to take part in the pre-recorded civic service.

"I would like to encourage residents to decorate their homes or window in red, white and blue, join in the national toast and watch the civic service."

Councillor Bob Rudd, the chairman of the council, said: "We are still keen to make VE Day a memorable one and to commemorate our war heroes from the comfort of our homes.

"We would also like to encourage residents to stop what they are doing on 8 May at 3pm and raise a glass to participate in the national toast to the heroes of WW2.

"Look out for a lot of online activities from our Museums, Libraries, Record Office, Heritage and Arts team from the 4 to 8 May. We'll be sharing stories, photographs and War time objects from our collections. We've also invited contributions from a few special guests."

The Dean of Chester, Dr Tim Stratford, said: "On 8 May 1945 there was huge relief and great celebrations across Europe as the allies accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany and the guns fell silent.

"Every anniversary we remember VE Day with a mixture of sadness for lives lost in the violence of war and of commitment that war should never again overrun our nations.

"We live at a time when national relationships across Europe are once more being recast. It is as important as ever that we continue to thank God for the relative peacefulness we have enjoyed in our own land since 1945 and commit ourselves to greater world peace.

"We are delighted to be part of the pre-recorded civic service and I do hope everyone takes time to watch the service."