The world’s oldest boy band – the Chelsea Pensioners, with a combined age of 550 years – have found the person they want to sing with them as part of their race for the Christmas number one.
Brenda Sokell, a 62-year-old former publishing rep from Northumberland, has been named as their “Singing Pensioner”.
They will now go straight into the studio to record White Christmas, taking on the X Factor for the race to the top of the charts.
The competition has been running on ITV1’s The Alan Titchmarsh Show, which culminated when viewers chose Brenda for the job.
“It’s all very well for the kids going on X Factor, good luck to them, it’s fantastic for them,” says Chelsea Pensioner Michael Allen.
“But we wanted to give the opportunity to an older person to live their dream. It can be difficult being our generation in the UK.
“When you’re in civilian clothes, you get pushed off the pavement. When we wear our uniform, people stand up on buses and give you their seat. Wearing the Scarlet changes you as a person, put the Scarlet on, you become somebody. We wanted to show the country that the older generation have talent. They are worth idolising too.”
Brenda said: “It’s an amazing feeling. We can take on the X Factor, I think we’ll just have to beat Wagner the way people are voting for him! There’s so much goodwill for the Chelsea Pensioners that Christmas Number 1 is a real possibility.
“I started singing at 40 when the kids had grown up and have spent a long time getting my confidence. It doesn’t matter when you start, you can get your opportunity. This is like a new beginning for me. My hero is Tony Bennett, he’s in his 80s and sounds better than ever, it really shows what you can achieve at any age.”
The seven-strong Chelsea Pensioners released their album, Men In Scarlet, at the beginning of November. Their aim is to raise money for the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, where they live.