The countdown has begun to Forces' sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn's 99th birthday next year - with the launch of an appeal to raise £99,000 for her pioneering children's charity.
The singer credited with transforming the war effort with rousing numbers like We'll Meet Again, this week made a personal plea for the country to rally to the support of a cause she holds closest to her heart.
For the past 15 years Dame Vera’s Children’s Charity which runs a small school in Sussex 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, make a donation and send Dame Vera a personal birthday message.
Many of those messages will come via social media in a We'll Tweet Again celebration.
A special book containing the messages will be compiled and presented to her on the special day - March 20, 2016.
The charity supports children like Ruby, who was born prematurely and endured a number of serious setbacks resulting in a diagnosis of four limb cerebral palsy with additional disabilities including epilepsy.
Medical practitioners suggested Ruby would never be able to speak or walk however since attending Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity for three years and receiving the specialist one-to-one attention she needed, Ruby can now say lots of words and is able to stand and take steps.
Readers of this website are being urged by the charity to join in the birthday fun.
The charity has set up a dedicated Appeal page on Just Giving and donations can also be made via a text to donate. Anyone wishing to get involved, make a donation and send Dame Vera a Birthday message can also contact the fundraising team on 01403 780444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
A fundraising thermometer will be in the school's reception to chart the appeal's progress and regular updates will be featured on the charity’s website and social media sites - as well as this website and its associated newspapers.
Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity provides an early intervention service for families of young children with cerebral palsy and other similar motor learning disabilities using Conductive Education, an holistic learning process that encourages the child through play to develop more typical posture, muscle tone and movement patterns and actively participate in solving the challenges of daily living.
Every family is offered a weekly three hour small group session of Conductive Education where children learn with and through their parents and with other children with similar needs and where the focus is on achieving success.
Appeal organisers said: "Our ethos of active learning through play addresses all aspects of the child’s development using fun activities, games, songs and stories to evoke the child’s interest and motivation and build their capacity to learn.
"The positive ‘can do’ attitude fostered in the groups encourages children to have a go at various activities and receive the appropriate help they need to enable them to succeed.
"The skilled team work to increase the child’s physical abilities and help with simple life skills such as active sitting, standing, stepping, walking and manipulation skills and the small groups facilitate time for each child to communicate and learn from others.
"Our emphasis is to provide effective support and advice to parents helping them actively participate with their child’s learning and development, understand and appreciate their child’s abilities and achievements and empowering them to make informed choices about their child’s future needs.
"All the services we offer are provided free of charge. We receive no statutory funding and rely entirely on the support of the community to raise the £480,000 needed this year to ensure that this vital and much needed service can continue."