Warwick Racecourse will be hosting a huge Victory in Europe Day celebration to open this year’s May Racing Carnival commemorating 75 years since World War Two fighting ended in Europe.
The mammoth community occasion, on Friday, May 8 will be a centrepiece in the town’s celebrations and will feature a street party for up to 1,500 people in the centre of the course.
This area will also be location for a huge range of entertainment and activities that will appeal to all ages of racegoer with free fairground rides including dodgems, carousels, chair-o-planes and traditional side stalls.
The Silver Stars parachute display team will also be dropping in, along with the Warwickshire Regiment Re-enactment Group.
Patrons will also be able to enjoy wartime ballads from a Vera Lynn tribute act and other bands, whilst the Warwick Model RC Flyers will display of over 20 replica WW2 planes.
The Bank Holiday raceday is being supported by a range of community partners, including the Royal British Legion, 2nd Warwick Sea Scouts, Rotary Club and Lions Club amongst others.
A special VE Day Luncheon will be held on the day in the Paddock Pavilion, in aid of 353 Charitable Trust and the Wigley Support Fund (WSF), in conjunction with Parachute Regiment charity Support Our Paras.
The 353 Charitable Trust, which is based in Warwick, was set up in memory of Conrad Lewis of the Parachute Regiment, who was the 353rd solider to be killed in Afghanistan.
The trust was established by his parents and aims to give long-term support to injured soldiers and their families, as well as families of the bereaved.
Tony Lewis, one of the founders of 353, said: “My father served in the WW2, from D-Day plus six up until the end and so It’s important to me that we continue to celebrate and remember those who served then as well as those who serve now or gave their lives in recent conflict and this raceday is a great way to do that.
“We will be fundraising for the 353 Wellbeing Fund, which is held by Support Our Paras, with a percentage of the ticket price for the luncheon being donated, alongside other fundraising across the day.
“Conrad lived 18 years of his life across the road from the racecourse, so we are expecting a lot of his friends as well as the family to be there in support too.”
The Wigley Support Fund (WSF) was established by The Wigley Group as an initiative with the Parachute Regiment charity Support Our Paras to help soldiers in need with the transition from military to civilian life.
Robert Wigley, Chairman of The Wigley Group, added: “We established the Wigley Support Fund in 2017 to specifically help re-train serving and veteran paratroopers. The raceday will raise funds to support that work.
“We are a long-time supporter of Warwick Racecourse and this raceday promises to be a fantastic event to commemorate VE Day and raise money for Support Our Paras in the process.”
The Royal British Legion will be inviting veterans to attend the luncheon and will be selling VE Day poppy pins on the day too.
David Fairclough, Advice & Information Team leader from the Royal British Legion said: “In 2020 we will be asking the nation to remember the impact that leaving, missing and returning home has on service men and women and their loved ones – then and now.
“The commemorations and events for VE day across the country will be a central part of our remembrance and will bring home the scale of service and sacrifice made by men and women of the Second World War generation.
“We are therefore very proud to be working in collaboration with the Warwick Racecourse team at their VE Day event, which will enable people to come together in celebration and remembrance, as well as welcoming a number of veterans across the three-days who will be honorary guests of the Legion and the racecourse.”
The fixture will replace the popular Kids Carnival raceday which has traditionally opened the May Racing Carnival at Warwick and regularly attracts more than 5,000 people.
Andre Klein, General Manager at Warwick Racecourse, added: “This is a very important day and to commemorate the 75th anniversary our team are looking to forward to staging a race meeting that truly befits this important occasion.
“We want the day to be accessible for all, so advance admission has been set at just £10. On the day, if we are not sold out, it will be £15. Patrons born pre-1945 will be admitted for free.
“There are so many activities planned it’s hard to list them all and the level of community support and interest in the day is already far bigger than any meeting we have ever staged at Warwick.
“People will be able to enjoy free seating in the centre of the course for 1500, where picnics will be permitted, subject to certain restrictions.
“We’re delighted to have teamed up with 353, the Wigley Support Fund and the Royal British Legion to host the luncheon and look forward to welcoming veterans on the day.”
Tickets for the Victory in Europe Raceday at Warwick Racecourse are priced at £10 in advance, and £15 on the day. Children under 17 will be admitted for free.
VE Day Luncheon tickets are priced at £60 per person. The luncheon will include hog roast, traditional wartime desserts and will be presented in the style of a traditional street party with community
Entry is free for children under-18 when attending with a full paying adult. To find out more visit www.warwickracecourse.co.uk
PICTURE CAPTION: From left to right - Tony Lewis (353), Robert Wigley (The Wigley Group), Albert Price (93, D-Day veteran), Betty Price, Sandra Lewis (353), Tommy Williams (Warwick Racecourse) and David Fairclough (Royal British Legion).