Editor’s letter: We must honour our heroes – both then and now

Like everyone else, I have been deeply moved by the actions of our new national hero, Captain Tom Moore. He’s one of the rare people who both served in the Second World War and is now living through our coronavirus pandemic. His reasons for pacing his back garden every day to complete 100 laps – just before his 100th birthday on 30 April – to raise money for the NHS (more than £28 million at the time of going to press) absolutely floored me.

‘They’re all so brave,’ he said. ‘Because every morning or every night they’re putting themselves in harm’s way.’ That someone who has had a front-row seat for the horrors of war could have such empathy for the NHS workers on the frontline of a very different world crisis – well, it makes me tear up just thinking about it.

It’s that Captain Tom brand of humanity that has inspired this very special issue. His is the spirit I think of when I try to imagine the 1940s. There was clearly suffering, hardship and horrific sacrifices made by so many. Yet when we look at photographs of that time, we can still see snatched moments of love, laughter and resilience shining through. The strength of men, women and children of the time is, frankly, incomprehensible to me.

We have been planning for some time to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, but coming as it does now, this significant milestone also feels like a timely pep talk.

The stories in this issue, from people who witnessed the euphoric moment of VE Day on 8 May 1945, speak volumes about the sort of stock we’re from. Our current crisis is not the same kind of violent war these people endured, but it is nonetheless a very real one. Thousands have lost their lives and we don’t yet know what the full physical, emotional and financial cost of it all will be. But today’s issue is a beautiful reminder: look at what this generation did. Look what people like Captain Tom are still doing. We can do this.

Enjoy the issue.

Editor’s picks

A few things I’m coveting this week

Dressed up and comfortable for working from home. Dress, £170, toa.st

I love this fun update on animal print. Sandals, £125, penelopechilvers.com

What a bargain! Bag, £14, Baggu, goodhoodstore.com