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AP profile brightens VE Day for 94-year-old WWII veteran

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The London team of Danica Kirka, correspondent; Frank Augstein, photographer; and Jo Kearney, freelance video journalist; with Paris video journalist Alex Turnbull, gave a 94-year-old British World War II veteran a new reason for hope despite the isolation brought on by the pandemic, with an exclusive all-format package about his pen-pal relationship with Normandy teenagers grateful to veterans like him who saved France from the Nazis 75 years ago.

AP was the first media organization to cover the uplifting story, which brought Bill Ridgewell attention in his hometown paper, on BBC and around the world. “When he realized he was all over the U.S. and Canada, to say nothing of Sumatra, he was actually lost for words,” read his daughter’s letter to AP. “I think you have probably given him at least another year of life.”

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Marion Nivard, 15, shows a photo of WWII veterans, including Bill Ridgewell, in Varaville, Normandy, May 5, 2020. As V-E Day approached, Nivard and her classmates in the Normandy region thought of the 94-year-old British veteran and other vets living in isolation because of the COVID-19 pandemic, The teens decided to swap stories with the men about their lives under lockdown. – AP Photo / David Vincent
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