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Minister Ashford's Statement on COVID-19 - 8 May 2020

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Today is VE day. Many of us expected to be marking the day by having a street party, taking part in organised events or by paying our respects at religious services.  

Today, we showed our respect by doing this virtually. Today, we demonstrated our dignity by staying indoors. Today, we showed our pride in our Manx nation and waved our flag in living rooms and bedrooms rather than outside.  

 And never have I felt so honoured to be a Manx man than to see the Island come together in the way that it has today.  

We have used many references to war in these daily press conferences. We have talked about strengthening armour, shoring up defences and our determination to fightback against the virus.  

Words that were all too familiar in 1945 and words I thought I would never have to say in 2020.  

We have been and are asking the general public to make sacrifices to their daily lives, changing routine, doing things differently not seeing friends and loved ones in order to support the greater good of our society. Just as the generation 75 years ago was asked to make sacrifices, much greater than the sacrifices we have been asked to make today, with many of them making the ultimate sacrifice, who never again set foot on home shores. 

And for those that made those sacrifices for us then - today we remember them.  

Today I am delighted to be joined by Edmund Southworth the Chief Executive of Manx National Heritage about how they have supported these virtual events.  

I am also delighted to be joined by Major Charles Wilson who has played a huge part in organising events not just today but to mark the work of the armed services throughout the year and in previous years.  

Thank you to you both for your support in organising todays events.  

This morning we joined the United Kingdom in observing a two-minute silence. 

And this afternoon at 2.55pm a bugler played The Last Post from the summit of Snaefell, followed at 3pm by a piper who played ‘Battle’s O’er’ and ‘VE Day 75’, a new piece composed especially for today’s events. These joined in sync with hundreds of other locations around the world, including the highest peaks of the four nations of the United Kingdom.  

And I would like to echo the Chief Ministers earlier word’s and thank the bugler, Matt Creer of the Royal British Legion, and the piper, Dr John Struthers of Ellan Vannin Pipes and Drums, for volunteering to undertake this act of remembrance.  

This event has been captured on video and shared on social media and will be made available to anyone that requests it.   

The Treasury has issued a commemorative gold sovereign and a special issue of 50 pence pieces with images of VE Day in 1945 including Churchill with his famous V for Victory hand gesture, Manx residents celebrating in the streets and a soldier returning home to his family.  

I also know that Royal British Legion standard bearers around the Island joined a UK-wide initiative to parade and salute in their homes or gardens this afternoon. I’d like to thank everyone who shared their photos on social media and for those that haven’t done so yet, please do so.   

If CoVID-19 has taught us anything, it shows that we can work as one Island, as one community. And we showed that again today. Thank you to everyone who used the VE day toolkit to throw the stay at home garden party, and who stayed at home to participate in the Nations Toast to Hero’s.  

So, now I will hand over to Major Wilson for his words on today’s events.  

And now to Edmund, for the role MNH have played today.   

And now over to the media for any questions.  

In closing, we must never forget the sacrifices our community and the wider world made all those many years ago that made VE day possible. Today in 2020 we are as a nation and as a community asking people to make different forms of sacrifice for the wider benefit of the island we all love. It is not easy and at times it is heart breaking and frustrating, but I know in my heart that this generation will rise to face its challenges and surmount them just as the previous generation did theirs all those years ago. So remember Stay at home when you can, Stay Safe and protect your community. 

Today on the 75th Anniversary of VE Day and in the days, weeks, months and years to come as we think back to all those who made the ultimate sacrifice those many years ago ….  

We will remember them. 

Thank you.