War veteran teams up with air raid-themed tea room for Christmas number one bid

Chris Miller and John Pearce (Eleanor Drewitt/PA)
Chris Miller and John Pearce (Eleanor Drewitt/PA)

A Second World War veteran and a cafe for the elderly modelled on an air raid shelter have launched an “underdog” bid for the Christmas number one – going up against Ed Sheeran Sir Elton John and Gary Barlow.

Chris Miller owner of the Air Raid Shelter Cafe and Tea Room in High Wycombe has teamed up with former RAF radio operator John Pearce, 95, to record a cover of the festive standard Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).

They are hoping to raise money for dementia charities while fending off competition from some of the UK’s biggest pop acts.

Mr Miller, 41, told the PA news agency it would “just be dreamland” if the song went to number one.

The former manager of Amersham Town FC said: “The great thing about the Christmas number one in this country is that it is a chance for someone to come from the left-field, a nobody, for the country to get behind – an underdog.

“The song is good enough to capture people’s imagination and the video has got everything in it. It is fun and it is emotional.

“It would be amazing, it would just be dreamland to go to number one. I couldn’t really describe what it would feel like.”

Mr Miller, who recruited May Blossom and the Top Notes Choir for the recording under the collective name The 1945, said they chose to cover Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) because of the connotations of coming home from both the struggles of dementia and from war in Europe.

(Chris Miller/PA)

Located inside the Chilterns Shopping Centre, the Air Raid Shelter Cafe and Tea Room opened three years ago serving individuals and groups from care homes, after plans to knock down the centre were delayed.

In his spoken word introduction to the track, Mr Pearce says: “Deep in the heart of Buckinghamshire lies a special place, the Air Raid Shelter and the Tea Rooms, where sometimes special things happen.”

Mr Miller praised the veteran, saying: “John Pearce is so loving and caring and it would be so good for him to get that recognition – not that he wants it – because he is one of the last (veterans) we have got left.

“We have got a ‘thank-you wall’ outside the cafe and so many of them have died over the last two years. And it would just be amazing to have another chance for us to show that we are grateful to the generation and to raise awareness and money for dementia, because it is so underfunded.”

Speaking of those who fought in the Second World War, Mr Miller added: “I opened the cafe three years ago and have always just loved that generation – my grandparents’ generation. They are just so respectful and they gave up so much for us.”

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by The 1945 is available on all major streaming platforms.

The Conversation (0)