Dame Vera Lynn has revealed her secrets for long life as she turns 100 – being active and “interested” in life.
To mark the centenary, her record label projected her photograph onto the white cliffs of Dover – but a Spitfire fly-past was scrapped due to bad weather.
Asked for advice on ageing, she said: “Be active to your full capabilities.
“Keep interested, read books, watch television and try to keep in touch with life and what people are doing, seeing and enjoying.”
Speaking to BBC Radio 2, she added: “While you can do that, I hope you will continue.”
Dame Vera became known as the “forces’ sweetheart” during World War Two for travelling to conflict zones around the world to give morale-boosting performances to British troops.
As part of the birthday celebrations, children at Brampton Primary School – Dame Vera’s old school in East Ham, east London – sang Happy Birthday to her via Skype.
They also serenaded her with a selection of her best-loved hits including We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover.
Speaking from her home in Ditchling, East Sussex, she thanked the pupils and recalled her “very good memories” at the school.
Speaking earlier to Radio 2, the veteran singer said: “When I look on my mantelpiece and see these cards wishing me a happy 100th birthday, I can’t believe it.
“But there you are, time marches on and this is what I have on my mantelpiece to remind me how old I am.”
Although the planned Spitfire fly-past over the Dover cliffs wasn’t possible, supporters of the Dame Vera Lynn’s Children’s Charity did brave the wind for a birthday party atop the cliffs.
BBC Radio Kent’s Jo Burn on the white cliffs of Dover
The Mk9 Spitfires may have been grounded and the 50ft high Bluebirds due to fly over Southforeland Lighthouse safely pinned to the White Cliffs, but Winston Churchill still came to party in Dover today.
Forty mile per hour winds and a wet low mist didn’t dampen spirits as veterans, re-enactors and the Singing Sweethearts serenaded Dame Vera and sang happy birthday.
A military-style salute and flag-waving carried on regardless, all in support of her children’s charity but also celebrating the 100th birthday of our own Forces’ Sweetheart.