Veterans alongside residents and councillors gathered together at Southend's 103-year-old cenotaph as a beacon was lit to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

The city joined other towns and villages across the UK to light the beacon yesterday night in celebration of the "light of peace" that emerged out of the darkness of war.

Moving - Ron Woodley gives his speechMoving - Ron Woodley gives his speech (Image: Malgorzata Kapera)

This ceremony was an opportunity for Southend to remember the heroic Allied forces who crossed the English Channel to storm the beaches of Normandy 80 years ago, marking a pivotal moment in the fight for freedom during the Second World War.

Tribute - Royal British Legion, cadet and scoutsTribute - Royal British Legion, cadet and scouts (Image: Southend Council)

In a moving speech at the event, Ron Woodley, mayor of Southend Council said: “Tonight, as we join villages, towns and cities across the United Kingdom to light this beacon, we do so in remembrance of those who fought and those who fell. We honour their legacy and the enduring spirit of unity and resilience that they embodied.

Beacon lit - Ron WoodleyBeacon lit - Ron Woodley (Image: Southend Council)

“This beacon is not just a symbol of light, but a beacon of hope, a reminder of the strength that comes from standing together in the face of adversity. It is a symbol of the light of peace that emerged from the darkness of war. 

Mayor - Ron Woodley gives his speechMayor - Ron Woodley gives his speech (Image: Southend Council)

“We are privileged to have veterans and their families with us this evening. Their presence is a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made and the bravery shown. We owe them a debt of gratitude that can never be fully repaid, but we can strive to honour their legacy by upholding the values of freedom, democracy, and peace. 

Soldiers - the British Army also attendedSoldiers - the British Army also attended (Image: Malgorzata Kapera)

“As we look around us, we see a community united in remembrance and respect. Let us take this moment to reflect on the lessons of the past and commit ourselves to building a future that honours the sacrifices of those who came before us.”

Remembrance - Southend Band and Choir also performedRemembrance - Southend Band and Choir also performed (Image: Southend Council)

There will also be a commemoration event at the Victoria shopping centre tomorrow featuring allied Second World War uniforms, equipment and vehicles, 1940s singers and dancers and more.