A COMMUNITY support group which responds to the needs of residents during the coronavirus lockdown has celebrated VE Day in style.

The Colne Engaine Community Response Group took its operation centre back to 1945 last Friday to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe.

The group was launched at the start of the lockdown to support villagers.

Volunteers at the centre, which is based at the Five Bells pub, dressed in vintage clothing and the pub got a makeover with 1945 bunting and authentic kit.

Spike Townsend, who organised the celebrations, said: “We’ve been running the response centre since the lockdown started on March 25.

“Since then we have been staffing and running the operation centre daily.

“We thought we would all meet for VE Day and we decided to take the operation centre back to 1945.

“We completely decorated the Five Bells pub where we’re based and it was all genuine 1945 kit.

“Living history is a hobby of mine so getting all of this organised was fairly easy.

“What was especially nice was that were able to ring the church bell for the first time since the lockdown for our two-minute silence.

“The ringing was live streamed by the vicar Mark Payne and I believe we may now have permission to ring the bell every Thursday for Clap for For Carers.”

Spike added: “I was very pleased with how everything turned out. There was a fantastic atmosphere in the village.”

“Everyone in the village really pushed the boat out. There was bunting hanging all over the village and people were out in their front gardens, it was really nice.

“We really knocked it out the park and I’m not ashamed to say that.”

Members of the group had planned to hold a bigger celebration at the pub before it was cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Spike added: “We did have to cancel our original VE Day event due to the coronavirus.

“We were going to hold it at the Five Bells on that Sunday and we were going to take the pub back to 1945.

“There was going to be a live band and singing with authentic 1940’s music as well as a 1940’s menu and even a Churchill cigar area out side.

“Sure the coronavirus has had an effect but in true British wartime fashion we’re soldering on.”

Since stating the group back at the beginning of the lockdown, the volunteers have proved vital to the daily lives of some residents.

The group offer support with all manner of task such as shopping and deliveries which, while menial tasks before the lockdown, have become an important service to residents since the pandemic began.

Spike said: “The response centre is coping very well so far. We’re seven weeks in and so far we’ve responded to just more than 100 call outs where we’ve helped people with shopping, prescriptions, deliveries and emergency plumbing.

“In total the operation centre had been staffed by responders for more than 400 hours and we’ve responded to a few calls from outside our parish in Halstead and Stanway because people have heard about what we’re doing.

“We even had one lady call for Colne up in Lancashire. She’d obviously gotten her town mixed up with ours but she told us about what a hard times she’s having and how she’s suffering from breast cancer.

“Brian got in touch with her local group in Pendle and let them know about her. She call back half an hour later to say they’d been in touch.

“It’s a steady keel now, we’re getting about two to three calls a day.

“We haven’t been overwhelmed because it’s clear to see that neighbours are helping neighbours.

“We’re just picking up the slack where we’re needed and that how it should be really.”