Thatcher toasts Dame Vera's 80th birthday

The belle of the Allied Forces in the Second World War, Dame Vera Lynn, celebrated her 80th birthday last night.

Princess Margaret and Baroness Thatcher joined showbusiness stars to raise a glass to Dame Vera at the Imperial War Museum in London.

The reception was hosted by Bill Pertwee from the BBC television show Dad's Army, Marine Cadets from Chatham in Kent provided a guard of honour, and a mobile field kitchen was set up by the Army School of Catering.

In a personal tribute, the Queen Mother wrote: "You've cheered us up and lifted us all during the war and after the war. I am sure that the Blue Birds of Dover will be flying over to wish you a happy anniversary."

Dame Vera, accompanied by her husband Harry, said she was overwhelmed by the number of friends who had turned up to share her celebration. She said she did not feel her age.

"I sometimes think that there's been a mistake made because I really don't feel that age that they tell me I am," she said.

Last night's celebration was missing only one thing. Dame Vera left at the end of the evening without singing any of the songs that made her the Forces Sweetheart.