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Sir Winston's finest hour as Ironbridge World War Two weekend gets off to a flier

Sir Winston Churchill enjoyed his finest hour as visitors descended for a Second World War event.

Filip Kaszuba, 11, from Leeds
Filip Kaszuba, 11, from Leeds

The Ironbridge WW2 Weekend was back for the first time in three years, and visitors turned out in their droves to see stunning military vehicles, epic weaponry displays and re-enactors in fabulous 40s attire, including one impressive lookalike of the wartime PM.

The award-winning Second World War weekend attracted an estimated 15,000 visitors in 2019 and, if Sunday is busy, numbers this year could eclipse the most recent event.

Carol and Chris Henderson from Nottingham

The Ironbridge Gorge has been transported back to wartime Europe as both civilian and military re-enactors bring the past back to life. The whole of Dale End Park showcases military and civilian displays, vintage stalls as well as live entertainment and even a 1940s pub.

Mark Taylor from Ross-on-Wye and Darren Harris from Wolverhampton in the mobile vintage Wheatsheaf pub

The main day event is free to enter with all donations and money raised being donated to Combat Stress, a charity that supports the mental wellbeing of our service personnel.

In the main marquee there was musical entertainment and jive dancing lessons, with a sold-out ticket-only party in the evening on Saturday.

Organiser Dave Adams described the first day as "phenomenal". "It's so good to be back," he said. "We've been busy all day since 10am. Normally we have lulls and busy spells, but this year it's been non-stop.

Tracy Farragher from Bridgnorth

"We couldn't have had better weather. The sun's out but it's not too hot. The big bonus was we had a Hurricane flypast, then about an hour later we had an Avro Anson flypast. Everyone was looking up and applauding.

"We've had military demonstrations, and our fashion pageant was really good this year."

He added: "We've had three years of not being able to put this on. It takes a lot of organising. We've only got a small team of eight people, but then lots more volunteers to help on the day."

Colin Mackie from Sheffield holds his checkpoint as Heavanti-J Harper, three, approaches

This year, proceeds from the event will go to Combat Stress, a mental health charity for military veterans. It is hoped the event will raise more than £10,000.

There were also people raising money for the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal at the event, with the Ukraine flag raised alongside the Union Jack.

Some war history events have been cancelled in the UK this year, citing the conflict in the Ukraine as the reason. However, Ironbridge WW2 Weekend organisers wanted to use the occasion to show solidarity with the nation, providing an opportunity for visitors to enjoy themselves and for money to be raised for those in need.

One of the multitude of attractions at Dale End Park was Sir Winston Churchill - aka professional impersonator Steve McTigue from Doseley, Telford.

Michael Stevens from York with his 1939 US Navy Staff Dodge

Steve and his fellow re-enactors spent time talking about Second World War history and posing for pictures with visitors.

As he donned his bowler hat and puffed on his cigar, Steve - or Winston - said: "It has been absolutely brilliant. I do shows up and down the country but this is my local. It has been organised extremely well.

Wilfrid Siroky, three, and Nancy Siroky, six, from Shrewsbury

"I've been Churchill for 14 years. I've learned a lot about his life. I do speeches and have pictures with people. It's all about the spectators, and making sure they enjoy their visit."

The event continues on Sunday. Visit ironbridgeww2weekend.co.uk for more information.

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