St Albans Cathedral joins Big Picnic for Hope to honour heroes past and present

Why not celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day with St Albans Cathedral? Picture: Alan Davies

Why not celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day with St Albans Cathedral? Picture: Alan Davies - Credit: Alan Davies

St Albans Cathedral is joining with cathedrals across England to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day with a virtual get-together on May 8.

Big Picnic for Hope

Big Picnic for Hope - Credit: Archant

Heroes past and present will be remembered in a special service to be broadcast at 3pm on YouTube and as part of the Big Picnic for Hope project, which asks people to stay at home, to picnic indoors or in their gardens, and to join friends and families virtually.

The Very Revd Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans, said: “In most of history’s wars it is hard to say which side was in the right. The Second World War was different. Nazism was a dehumanising ideology, based on a perverted evolutionary theory that one race is naturally superior to another, and can therefore be justified in crushing and exterminating others. The defeat of Hitler was a straightforward victory of good over evil. It is something of which this country can be genuinely proud, and for which we should be grateful to our forebears and to God.

“To mark VE Day we will be streaming a special service of thanksgiving, including contributions from some of those who took part in the struggle, a message from the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, and a sermon from Bishop Stephen Venner who until recently was Bishop to the Armed Forces.

“The planned street picnics and celebrations are impossible this year, but the Big Picnic for Hope is a national initiative to gather us together in homes and over social media. The idea is to celebrate not only the past, but also the courage and spirit of the individuals and communities who are struggling now with the pandemic – the NHS staff, carers, cleaners, drivers, shop workers – everybody who is ‘doing their bit’. And as we eat our picnic, there is also a chance to contribute to food banks for others.”

Cathedrals around the country had events planned to form part of the national celebrations marking the VE Day anniversary. These events would have brought together communities, friends and families in gatherings and streets parties around the UK. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, such gatherings are no longer possible. Most major events have been cancelled or postponed, but May 8 is still a national bank holiday and the Big Picnic for Hope offers an opportunity to reflect on past events and those we are all currently experiencing.

It also gives the nation another way of saying thank you for the incredible effort and sacrifice being made by our key workers from carers, delivery personnel, grocery workers and public transport workers to medical researchers and frontline NHS staff.

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The project also aims to raise £5,000 towards The Trussell Trust, a charity supporting a network of foodbanks and helping those in need in the UK.

Samantha Stapley, chief operating officer at the Trussell Trust, said: “As the coronavirus outbreak develops, more people are likely to need a food bank’s help. Our teams are working tirelessly to ensure that food banks are able to remain open and have the necessary stocks to respond to this crisis. The support of the cathedral network means we can remain agile to respond to the fast-changing situation and ensure food banks continue to provide the lifeline of emergency food and additional support for people in crisis. Thank you.”

People can share their plans and ideas for the Big Picnic for Hope using the hashtag #bigpicnicforhope. On social media people will be able to share and see their creative ideas of what to bake, what to make, how to picnic in style. This will help everyone get ready to join together on Friday May 8 to share photos of their picnics and discuss memories and stories of their loved ones, past and present, in a way fitting of the circumstances we are living through.

To join in with the Big Picnic for Hope, find out more, or share your ideas and photos visit or see @bigpicnicforhope on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and St Albans Cathedral social channels.

The fundraising page can be found here:

St Albans Cathedral will also be streaming a VE Day service at 3pm on its YouTube channel. Hear from serving personnel in the armed forces, the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, Bishop Stephen Venner, plus music from many local musicians by visiting us know what you’re doing to mark the anniversary of VE Day by emailing