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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 March 2007, 16:53 GMT
Jenkins sings for Dame Vera at 90
Dame Vera Lynn and Katherine Jenkins
Katherine Jenkins sang two of Dame Vera's wartime favourites
Katherine Jenkins has entertained Dame Vera Lynn on her 90th birthday with a selection of war-time songs.

The former music teacher from Neath has now taken on Dame Vera Lynn's mantle as "forces sweetheart" and entertained troops in Iraq and Kosovo.

Jenkins, 26, performed at the Imperial War Museum during the lunchtime reception and said Dame Vera had been a "great inspiration" to her.

Since her debut in 2003 Jenkins has sold around two million records.

Jenkins sang some of the "old wartime favourites" such as White Cliffs of Dover and We'll Meet again during the reception.

Other guests, including Baroness Thatcher, then joined in to sing Happy Birthday.

Quite daunting

Entertainers June Whitfield, Bill Pertwee, Liz Smith and Frank Thornton, wartime broadcaster David Jacobs, Baroness Boothroyd and ballerina Darcey Bussell were also at the special birthday celebrations.

"They are her (Dame Vera) songs so it's quite daunting. She means so much to so many people - she's a big inspiration to me," Jenkins said ahead of the reception.

In May 2005, thousands gathered in Trafalgar Square for a concert marking the 60th anniversary of VE day and Jenkins performed wartime songs.

Even though Dame Vera appeared onstage alongside Jenkins she did not perform, saying she had not sung a note in public for 10 years.

On Tuesday, Dame Vera said she had no tips for Katherine on being a Forces Sweetheart, but simply hoped she had as much success and enjoyment from the experience as she had during World War II and appreciated what it meant to the troops.

Katherine Jenkins
Jenkins also joins Dame Vera in having a daffodil named after her

She said: "Once you get in their (the troops') good books, they never forget you."

She described her time entertaining the forces as "a bit hazardous" but a great experience and spoke of her fond memories of meeting soldiers and reminding them of England.

Jenkins, who is now a trustee of the British Forces Foundation, described her first performance in Basra in December 2003 as "the best day of my life".

Through her work with the charity she had travelled to Afghanistan, Iraq and Northern Ireland to entertain British servicemen and women.

In 2004 Jenkins signed the largest record deal in UK classical recording history, with an undisclosed seven-figure deal.

Last May she received the album of the year award at the Classical Brit Awards for the second year running with Living A Dream.

She is currently organising a festival in Margam Park called Katherine in The Park on 8 July.

In pictures: Singer visits school
25 Oct 06 |  In Pictures
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25 Mar 06 |  North East Wales
Jenkins performs for Iraq troops
23 Dec 05 |  South West Wales


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