There were bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover - or rather on a special cake - for Dame Vera Lynn yesterday.
It was all thanks to the sugar craft talents of a Sussex baker who helped Dame Vera celebrate her 99th birthday in style.
Baker Mia Taggart was invited to create a cake to remember for the woman who immortalised the south coast in song and seared the picture of Blighty on the hearts of thousands of troops listening to Armed Forces Radio in 1942.
The ‘Forces Sweetheart’, who is nine years older than the Queen and was a close friend and favourite of the Queen Mother, chose to mark her 99th year with a small, private gathering at her home in Ditchling.
But 20 miles away in Billingshurst, the families of infants with cerebral palsy, who have been helped by the Dame Vera Children’s Charity, shared in the celebration with special Dame Vera cupcakes, also baked by Mia.
A former nutritionist who taught herself sugar craft, Mia’s previous celebrity bakes have included the entire Strictly Come Dancing judging panel moulded in sugar for Zoe Ball.
Mia said: “Dame Vera is so strongly associated with the White Cliffs of Dover that once I had the image in my mind, nothing else would do.”
Mia specialises in creating one-off cake designs at her kitchen in Burgess Hill.
She added: “Even though Dame Vera isn’t of my generation, of course, everyone knows her and it was just such a huge privilege to be asked to create a surprise cake for her birthday.
“For me, it’s one of the most memorable and it’s definitely the one my grandmother and mum are most proud of!”
The Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity for children with cerebral palsy was set up in 2001 when the national charity Scope announced that it would be unable to continue funding the School for Parents at Ingfield Manor, at Five Oaks, near Billingshurst.
Earlier this year a ‘Vera 99’ appeal was launched to mark Dame Vera’s 99th birthday year.
Its aim is to raise £99,000 for her pioneering children’s charity.
For the past 15 years Dame Vera’s Children’s Charity has supported more than 600 children with cerebral palsy and their families.
The Vera 99 Appeal provides the opportunity for the wider community to get involved and make a donation to her charity.