Festival of Rememberance RAH 271020_0985

This year's Festival of Remembrance commemorates the people, communities and nations who secured peace and our way of life 75 years ago, whilst reflecting upon the service and sacrifice made by many in protecting the nation from Covid-19.

Whilst we remember the service and sacrifice of so many, we will also consider the connections between then and now – separation from family, a feeling of the unknown and of what comes next, and a desire to come together to support each other.

This year we remember then and reflect on now.

Presented by Huw Edwards, the Festival will feature

Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth (Royal Band)

Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment

Royal Air Force Shades of Blue Big Band

The Orchestra of the Household Division

Under the direction of

Lieutenant Colonel Jase Burcham, Principle Director of Music Royal Marines

Wing Commander Piers Morrell, Principle Director of Music Royal Air Force

Corporal Stephen Hunter BMus (Hons), Royal Air Force Shades of Blue Leader

Lieutenant Colonel Simon Haw MBE, Commanding Officer Household Division Bands

The Festival Chorus

The Mark De-Lisser Singers

Under the direction of

Mark De-Lisser

The Service, conducted by

The Right Reverend James Newcome DL, Bishop of Carlisle, National Chaplain to The Royal British Legion

Festival of Remembrance 2018 trumpeter

The Programme

Follow tonight's programme and performances as they happen.

Festival Fanfare performed by the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry under the direction of Trumpet Major Julian Sandford

The State Trumpeters of the Band of the Household Cavalry regularly play at major state events and anniversaries, usually in the presence of The Queen or other senior royals. The Household Cavalry is one of the oldest regiments in the British Army, dating back to 1660. They are known for their distinctive gold attire.

Entry of the Standards

The Union Flag carried by Robert Perkins

The Royal British Legion National Standard carried by Anthony Vidler

The Torch of Remembrance

Carried by Drum Major Chris Mace

Royal Marine Band

Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth and The Mark De-Lisser Singers

The band will perform 'Wish Me Luck' and 'Kiss Me Goodnight'

Marisha Wallace 2

Marisha Wallace

One of the most well-known voices in Broadway and the West End, Marisha Wallace performs 'Bluebirds Over the White Cliffs of Dover'

Royal Tribute

Given by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales

Army delivering PPE


Amongst their normal duties, the Armed Forces have been protecting the nation from Covid-19 by supporting frontline workers. From assisting with building the NHS Nightingale Hospitals to delivering vital PPE, our Armed Forces have sacrificed their safety and wellbeing to protect the nation from a global pandemic.

Find out more

Captain Sir Thomas Moore

One man that has become the face of hope in dark times, capturing our imagination and inspiring people around the world, is Captain Sir Tom Moore.

His charitable work has inspired hope and united the nation when it was needed the most.

On his journey to creating a more hopeful world, and to channel the incredible support he has received, The Captain Tom Foundation was formed.

The Royal British Legion is honoured to be one of four organisations chosen as charity partners for the Foundation. This partnership will assist the Legion in continuing its work of providing life-changing support for those in the Armed Forces community who are in need. 

Captain Tom

Freya Ridings

Freya Ridings

The surprise success story of 2018, Freya performs her breakthrough double-platinum-selling hit 'Lost Without You'

Battle of Britain

The Battle of Britain marked one of the first key victories after the battle and subsequent evacuation of Allied Forces from Dunkirk.

Although this victory marked a turning point in the War in Europe, it came at a heavy cost to both civilians and military personnel.

Gladys Eva

Gladys Eva (WAAF)

Gladys worked at Bentley Priory during the Battle of Britain - the headquarters of RAF Fighter Command and a nerve centre of Dowding’s Operations. She was one of the first women posted to the underground bunker, where information from radar sites and commands on air movements were brought together and analysed.

Jeff Brereton (RAF)

Jeff Brereton joined the RAF as a volunteer mostly because of the Battle of Britain, against the wishes of his parents.

Jeff was later based in RAF Croydon, working as a mechanic to keep aircraft in the air by servicing, refueling, repairing and rearming planes as quickly as possible so they could get back in the air. 

His squadron was heavily involved in the Battle of Britain and was flying five sorties a day. One of the Hurricanes that Jeff worked on is the only airworthy Hurricane of his squadron used in the Battle of Britain that can still fly today.

Douglas Newham

Douglas Newham (RAF)

Douglas was a junior technician during the Battle of Britain, working for the Post Office Engineering Research Station to build and install a critical upgrade to the synchronising system of the Chain Home radar stations. These stations were critical for Fighter Command, alerting them to German squadrons approaching. Without the upgrade that Douglas’s team carried out, a major attack that affected the National Grid electricity supply would have severely disrupted the whole network.

Julian Ovenden Band of the RAF Regiment (002)

Battle of Britain

High Flight written by John Gillespie Magee Jr, and performed by Julian Ovenden

Actor and singer Julian Ovenden made his name playing an RAF pilot in ITV World War Two detective drama Foyle’s War. He went on to star in war movie Allies, Downton Abbey and The Crown.

He has appeared on Broadway and West End stages in productions including King Lear, A Woman of No Importance and Show Boat as well as performing at the Proms on the Royal Albert Hall stage. This winter Julian can be seen in the new Netflix series Bridgerton

Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment performs the Battle of Britain March and the Eagle Squadron 

Music is an integral part of military life and since its formation in 1942 the Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment has boasted a proud and distinguished heritage. From Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace to live BBC Television and Radio broadcasts, the Band continues to demonstrate its versatility and excellence. 

This year, the Band has participated in national events marking the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day, as well as a performance at Westminster Abbey in September for the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain Service of Thanksgiving and Rededication.

The musicians display, in their conduct and performance, the excellence for which the Royal Air Force has become renowned.

Chelsea Pensioners

Chelsea Pensioners

The Chelsea Pensioners are always a distinctive presence at the Festival of Remembrance. But tonight they’ll be making their presence felt from the safety of their home. This year will feature a special performance of Boys of the Old Brigade, the song they traditionally march to at the Festival of Remembrance, in conjunction with Michael Ball OBE and Alfie Boe OBE.

Michael Ball and Alfie Boe

Michael Ball OBE and Alfie Boe OBE

Perform 'Boys of the Old Brigade' at the Royal Hospital Chelsea

Shades of Blue Big Band Laura Main 2

End of the Second World War: VE Day

The Second World War saw the UK and the Commonwealth Nations embroiled in a rollercoaster of triumphs and tragedies, which traversed from VE Day and then VJ Day.

VE Day

Testimony of Elsie Brown, a housewife living in the East End of London, performed by Golden Globe and BAFTA winning Samantha Morton. Samantha’s wide range of credits includes Minority Report, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Harlots and The Walking Dead.

VE Day veterans Albert Jarrett (RAF), Jean Owtram (FANY) and Mervyn Kersh (Army) share their wartime experiences.

Laura Main and The Royal Air Force Shades of Blue Big Band

Part of The Band of the RAF Regiment, The Royal Air Force Shades of Blue was formed in 1999. RAF Musicians are required to support British Forces on operations home and abroad, and have been deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Cyprus, Dubai and the Falkland Islands. Tonight the band performs In The Mood.

Laura has appeared in all nine series of Call The Midwife, with series ten screening from this Christmas, initially playing Sister Bernadette, before giving up her wimple and reverting to Shelagh Turner. Laura performs Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.

Choreographed by Patrick Helm, the dancing sequences feature five couples who live together or are in their own support bubbles. 

Kara-Leah Fernandes NINA

End of the Second World War: VJ Day

After six long years the end of the war was officially announced, but the people of Great Britain had long sensed it was coming to an end.

VJ Day

Testimony of a young girl recalling memories of VE Day and the war in Far East continuing, performed by Kara-Leah Fernandes.

Kara has played Bailey in EastEnders for two years. Her portrayal of a young carer resulted in her winning Best Newcomer at the British Soap Awards. She has also appeared in hit BBC One comedy Hold the Sunset alongside John Cleese and Alison Steadman.

VJ Day Veterans share their wartime experiences

Eric Davis (RAF)

Robert Batty (Fleet Air Arm)

Darbara Singh Bhullar (Indian Army)

Testimony of Megan Ryan whose husband was away fighting, performed by Nina Toussaint-White

Nina was part of the Bodyguard cast playing DS Louise Rayburn in the hugely popular and critically acclaimed BBC One drama. Very recently, she has returned to our screens in ITV thriller The Sister.

Norman Bartlett 1 Mervyn Kersh Frank Ashleigh Albert Jarret

Second World War Veterans Seated in the Hall

Second World War Veterans Seated in the Hall

Jean Owtram (FANY)

Pat Owtram (WRNS)

Norman Bartlett (RN)

Mervyn Kersh (Army)

Rajindar Singh Dhatt (Indian Army)

Frank Ashleigh (Army)

Albert Jarret (RAF)

Testimony of Second World War Veteran, Norman Bartlett (RN)

Norman talks about the importance of remembering those who died in WW2 and the sacrifice they gave, which secured the freedoms we enjoy today. He joined the Royal Navy as a gunner in 1942, aged 16, spending most of his time in the Battle of the Atlantic before joining the British Pacific Fleet in 1944. His job was to protect an HMS Indefatigable by shooting down planes trying to bomb the aircraft carrier.

Norman also remembers learning about VJ day 24 hours after the announcement, including the news of the atomic bombs. Although he admits they were critical to ending the war, he did not feel like celebrating when he thought of all the civilians that had been killed. After VJ Day, Norman went to Tokyo to collect prisoners of war and recalls their frightening appearances as well as their strength of character.  

American soldiers march north, 1950 - Image courtesy of the National Army Museum, London


2020 marks seventy years since the start of the Korean War. The conflict was officially ended in July 1953 by the Korean Armistice Agreement. Many argue that the Korean War was never formally ended because the ceasefire never gave way to a peace treaty. It is estimated that between 60,000 to 100,000 British service personnel saw action during the Korean War – coming from both the regular army and national servicemen.

Find out more

Korea Veterans

Gordon Payne was a member of the Royal Marines from 1949 -1956. The Korean War began just after he had finished his commando training, when he was sent to Japan to join American marines. Once there, he spent the first few weeks in training before moving onto North Korea where the marines were mostly demolishing local railways and lines of communication.

During his time in Korea, Gordon came into close contact with enemy Chinese forces, experiencing the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. Gordon recalls one particular battle where allied forces had to clear the Chinese off a hill. At one point, a truck Gordon was in was affected by the blast of a mortar bomb and came under machine gun fire. Gordon was one of a few to survive but was knocked unconscious.

After this, he continued serving in Korea for quite some time before being evacuated to Japan for hospital treatment, and then a US base in Tokyo. Gordon returned home to Britain for further treatment in the summer of 1951.  His back pay from his service in the Korean War was enough to pay for his wedding.

Sir William Purves was called up for national service in Korea in May 1950 at just 18-years-old. After some time in Hong Kong, William arrived in Inchon with his Battalion in April 1951. With the assistance of US troops, they gradually made their way northwards to join the regiment, but experienced frequent combat with Chinese forces whilst enduring extreme winter conditions.

William starkly remembers the Chinese Gunpowder plot in early November 1951, involving frequent mortar and shell attacks. This incident earned Purves the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for gallantry – he had held the line and fought the Chinese after getting shrapnel lodged in his shoulder, at just 19-years-old.

William left Korea in 1954 and returned home to work in a bank as he had done before his National Service. He joined the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC, eventually becoming Chairman) and lived out there for 40 years, before retiring in 1998.

Royal Marine Band

Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth (Royal Band)

Performing 'Taskforce Drysdale, Together, yet Separate' and 'Dragonwing'.

Tribute to the Bereaved and Laying up of the Drums

A Family’s Tribute to Lance Corporal Brodie Gillon

Mica Paris

Mica Paris MBE

One of the UK's finest and most respected female singers, Mica Paris, performs 'Amazing Grace'


This year’s Muster is a little different to previous years. We normally have 350 representatives, but due Covid-19, this year we have thirty representatives from the Armed Forces and twenty from the civilian services.

This year’s Muster demonstrates the diverse and inclusive nature of today’s Armed Forces and civilian Emergency Services, whilst also highlighting the broad range of skills, talents and expertise that is present across all ranks and trades.

Book of Remembrance

Carried by Flight Lieutenant Laura Foster and Lance Corporal Apassara Wichaisri. The procession includes NHS nurses who are civilians, reservists, and regulars. 

Military Nurses

Captain Willian Preece

Flight Sergeant Holly Chambers

Leading Naval Nurse Stacey Cain

Corporal Ousman Badje 

NHS Nurses

Melissa Morgan

Jacquiline Brown

Sophie Ellis Bexter

Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Chart-topping Sophie performs 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow'

Royal Tribute

Given by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall

Festival of Remembrance 2020

The Service

Follow the Festival of Remembrance service

The Bidding

The bidding and the prayers will be led by the National Chaplain to The Royal British Legion, the Right Reverend James Newcome DL.

The Mark De-Lisser Singers

Perform The Lord’s Prayer

Ramin Karimloo

Ramin Karimloo

Ramin, who is currently filming in BBC’s medical drama Holby City, performs 'I Vow to Thee, My Country'

Festival of Remembrance 2020 Confetti

The Act of Remembrance

The Exhortation will be led by the Royal British Legion's National President, Lieutenant General James Bashall CB, CBE

Find out more

The Last Post

Performed by a Bugler of the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines


Performed by the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry

The Dedication

Led by the Royal British Legion's National President, Lieutenant General James Bashall CB, CBE


Performed by The Mark De-Lisser Singers

The Blessing

Led by The National Chaplain to The Royal British Legion, the Right Reverend James Newcome DL

The National Anthem



Her Majesty The Queen

National President

Lieutenant General James Bashall CB, CBE

Festival Producer

Gary Ryan

Festival Executive Producer

Robert Lee

National Chairman

Una Cleminson BEM TD

National Vice-Chairman

Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Flazone OSJ BEM

Director General

Charles Byrne

Festival Director of Music

David Cole MVO OBE RM

Creative Director, BBC Events

Claire Popplewell

BBC Executive Producer

Katie Shiers

BBC Festival Producer

Catherine Stirk

Royal Albert Hall Chief Executive

Craig Hassall AM

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