New Zealand-born songbird Hayley Westenra will headline the 2009 Festival of Remembrance in a tribute to the original Armed Forces sweetheart, Dame Vera Lynn.

Miss Westenra will take the spotlight on 7 November at the Royal Albert Hall with a rendition of “We’ll Meet Again” before an audience including Her Majesty the Queen, members of the Royal Family, and Dame Vera Lynn herself.

Narrated by broadcaster Huw Edwards, the Festival of Remembrance is the annual tribute to the sacrifices of British Armed Forces, conducted this year against the backdrop of losses in Afghanistan.

“I decided to pay homage to Dame Vera because once again, there’s a need to offer comfort and support to our brave Armed Forces through music,” said Miss Westenra, 22. “It’s important to remember that when Dame Vera recorded these songs, she was the same age that I am now – and now I’m singing for my generation.”

The New Zealand-born soprano will be joined by a stellar line-up that includes contemporary jazz artist Jamie Cullum, mezzo-soprano Faryl, and the Fron Male Voice Choir from Froncysyllte, Vale of Llangollen, Clwyd, in Wales.

Three serving soldiers who have recorded an album in support of Armed Forces charities, The Soldiers, will be singing from their debut release, “Bring Him Home”. A choirboy and choirgirl from St George’s School Windsor Castle and the choir of St Edward’s Oxford will also perform.

Music and pageantry will be provided by a number of military performances including the Massed Band of the Guards Division with the Guards Swing Band, the Band of HM Royal Marines and the Central Band of the Royal Air Force.

This year’s ceremonies will include a tribute to D-Day veterans in the 65th anniversary of the landings which preceded the liberation of Europe and a number of war widows wearing the Elizabeth Cross, the new award bestowed upon the families of those who have fallen while on active service. The Festival citation will be read by Medical Assistant Kate Nesbitt, the first woman from the Royal Navy to be awarded the Military Cross.

The Festival of Remembrance is broadcast on BBC One and BBC Radio 2, drawing a television audience of more than 6 million viewers.

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