Surrey Adult Learning marks VE Day 20 in lockdown

Surrey Adult Learning offers inspiring language courses to learners. Our ESOL classes improve English as a second or other language to learners with a desire to improve their English skills and develop a greater understanding of living day to day life in the UK as a member of the community.

Learner Gusmelia Barretto Barrios is an entry 3 ESOL learner who has shared her learning experience with us. She said "Some people say you can learn English when you work. Yes, you can learn English when you're working but you cannot learn the rules and grammar. When you join an English class like this, you have to take some responsibility for your learning, and you have to do homework."

One recent piece of homework was to study VE Day history and celebrations using war time film footage and listening to Vera Lynn. Tutor, Mariam Altaf set homework to the class, which consisted of writing a letter to a friend describing VE Day at the time. Gusmelia produced a stunning letter, using complex English language structures and vocabulary.

Mariam is delighted with the progress of her ESOL learners, who have worked so hard to achieve great results. Here we share the time capsule letter by Gusmelia.


To: Margaret Kirby
15 First Avenue
Merseyside Liverpool
W12 5DA
9th May 1945

Dear Sister Margaret

There are no words to describe how delighted I am feeling at this very moment in time. A sudden sense of relief and joy rushed through my body the very second I heard the bells ringing in victory to mark the end of this dreadful time, to this very moment I am sitting in disbelief. Years of darkness, grief, loss and hopelessness that had roamed through the streets of London and lurking across Britain just vanished once the bells began to ring, and rejoice filled its spot. Our country was united in that instant once again.

As the bells continued to ring, hundreds of bodies scrambled and pranced out of homes, food in hand, coming to the centre of the streets like magnets, jumping up and down as one unit in the realisation that we were all finally free and safe! I had a plate full of sandwiches with me in fear that someone might knock it over from all of this excitement but luckily, it was all kept intact. Quickly but carefully, we all began to join any and every table that we could find in the middle of our street, setting table cloths and placing the food rations that we had left on the tables along with beverages and some beer for the grown-ups. I placed my plate of sandwiches in the centre and almost in a blink of an eye, the food was gone as we devoured it, the music blasted and filled the streets and our hearts as I swayed left to right, enchanted by this and felt my soul raise and leave my body for a second and fly like the bluebirds that we have always been singing of, had finally reached our land.

Shortly after, we all rushed to the streets of Buckingham Palace in hope of hearing the speech from the King. What was an almost deserted street before, had become an ocean of eager heads waiting for King George's appearance. A while later, King George emerged at the palace balcony along with the rest of the royal family! I could see Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret side by side, Elizabeth the Queen Mother along with the Prime Minister Winston Churchill! I couldn't believe my eyes, having the privilege to see these famous figures all at once, and witnessing the delicacy of the Princess Elizabeth' wave. My eye rapidly filled with tears of joy and relief. King George began his speech and it was marvellous. It was the moment I had fully come to terms with the fact that this actually was all over, that it wasn't a dream, it was and is reality! We have survived the worst dear sister, and have come through the other side stronger than ever.

Once the speech had finished, the streets of London were filled with applause, cheering and hats being thrown about into the air as we bubbled with gaiety. This lasted quite a while but there was never a dull moment. Later on, I skipped my way home as I had a spring in each and every step and got ready for bed however, I didn't sleep a wink because of all of this adrenaline and exhilaration that rushed through my body from head to toe.

As I continue writing this to you dear sister, it is the next morning and I am very glad to say that you shall be meeting my presence very shortly indeed. I am catching the next train to Liverpool to see you and we will most definitely have a proper catch up then and share this exuberance together.

With all my heart

Your sister Barbara

156 Vicent road
Clapham Junction London
PA5 1NT


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  • Updated: 30 Jul 2020