Following the death of the nationally-loved Dame Vera Lynn, one woman remembers her years-long association with the Forces’ Sweetheart.

As the daughter of a Whitehaven mining family, poet Jenny Martin learnt the horrors of the pits early in life, and with her father heading off to war as a member of the British Liberation Army, she was left with the feeling of having “survived the war on half a parent”.

But from her experiences as a young girl feeling lost in the war came her popular poetry – and a meeting with Dame Vera that would always stay with her.

With her poem Brief Encounter featured in the anthology Poems of the Poppies in 2010, Jenny attended the launch, and found herself at a table in the Grand Hotel, Brighton, just three seats down from the inspiring entertainer.

“At first I was overawed by her fame, the occasion and the venue, until I heard her speak of the time she spent in Burma with the ‘forgotten army’, sleeping on a stretcher placed between two chairs,” the 81-year-old said.

“The man sitting next to me told me it was true. His father, a Burma veteran, spoke of them telling her that home did not ‘seem so far away now’."

She added: “I will always remember in the cloakroom after the launch, my friend and I, two or three others, and Dame Vera and her daughter all exchanging the usual pleasantries before leaving for home.”

When it came to publishing her anthology, Aftermath, years later, the now-Bollington woman was encouraged by her Legion chairman, Len Johnson, to ask Dame Vera to write the foreword.

But Jenny was nervous to approach her, fearing she would seem “presumptuous”, until Len spoke the words that will “always define Dame Vera Lynne” for her; “I know she’ll do it.”

And sure enough, the stunning singer was thrilled to be involved, and wrote: “From 'Flodden Field' to 'The Conscript', it is hard to imagine that jenny Martin wasn't actually there floating in the ether listening and witnessing first hand the realities of war in all its various forms.

"This collection of poems and short stories will stir the memories of many and forever leave a space in their hearts.”