HUNDREDS of school pupils along with members of the town council, Royal British Legion and celebrities have come together in Bromyard to remember Second World War evacuees.

Actress Vanessa Redgrave, who went to the town with her family when war broke out in 1939, said it was a ‘gift’ to be able to attend the remembrance event, held two days prior to Remembrance Sunday.

While in Bromyard, she stayed with her cousin Lucy Kempson, who in 1946 gave land to the town which became the Kempson Players recreational ground.

“I was about three years old when my brother and I and our mother arrived at the Bromyard railway station one dark night on what I now know was the autumn or winter of 1939 or early 1940," she said.

“We had changed trains at Worcester. We were met by William and cousin Lucy’s little car, I think it was a Morris or maybe a baby Austin.

“The main thing about being evacuees was that we didn’t have our mother or father. Daddy was in the Royal Navy.”

Friday's event, called Operation Pied Piper 80, was also attended by Baron Alfred Dubs.

The Czechoslovakia-born politician was one of the children rescued from Nazi-occupied Prague on the Kindertransport in 1939.

Local schoolchildren taking part included those from Queen Elizabeth High School, as well as primary school children from St Peter’s, Brockhampton and Burley Gate.

Pupils dressed up as evacuees, including carrying gas masks like those would have done through the war years.

The billeting officer met the children at 8am this morning at the Conquest Theatre, before a precession to St Peter’s Church for a concert, readings and poems.

Secretary of the Bromyard Royal British Legion Major (Retd) Jan Brodie-Murphy said it was a great day, and the march from the Conquest Theatre to St Peter's Church took the crowd, which included 215 children, past the house where Vanessa Redgrave lived during the war.

"It was amazing, and what was most amazing you could hear like a flock of birds tweeting and when you turned around, it was just hundreds of children who were full of joy just chatting away," she said.

"When we marched today, we actually passed the cottage which is on Church Street and she (Vanessa Redgrave) lived there throughout the war.

"It was a memory trip for her and the children just couldn't believe that that's where she came to in the war."

The headteacher at Queen Elizabeth High School said it's important staff and students support these type of remembrance events.

After a meeting between the Bromyard branch of the Royal British Legion and local headteachers, it was decided to commemorate evacuees.

"I met with Janet Brodie-Murphy and discussed how we would observe remembrance this year and the theme of evacuees came up," Martin Farmer said.

"Between us as headteachers, we thought it would be good to recreate their arrival in Bromyard and then the children being taken as evacuees.

"It's important we support what the legion does, there are many children here that have relatives in the armed forces, so it is important."