Fenland village church's only chorister recognised for being choir member for 80 years

THE only chorister left at a Fenland village church has been recognised by the Bishop of Ely for hitting the right notes for 80 years. Walter Chamberlain joined Christchurch Parish Church s choir in 1929 aged seven – when it had about 30 members.

Story by: TOM JACKSON

THE only chorister left at a Fenland village church has been recognised by the Bishop of Ely for hitting the right notes for 80 years.

Walter Chamberlain joined Christchurch Parish Church's choir in 1929 aged seven - when it had about 30 members.

But over the years that number slowly dwindled - and 80 years on he now sits alone along the church's choir benches.


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Mr Chamberlain, 87, received a framed certificate and a congratulations card from the Bishop to mark the achievement.

It was presented at the service on December 27 on behalf of the Bishop of Ely by the Rev Kevin Fitzgibbon, priest-in-charge of Christchurch Parish Church.

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Mr Chamberlain described getting the recognition as "a bit of a surprise".

He said: "When I was seven years old the Rector who was here came to the school, pointed and said 'I want you, you, you and you in the choir'.

"When I started there were about 30 people in the choir, but now there is only me. I have to pipe out as best I can. But it is a job to recruit people today and it is a shame.

"I have loved every minute - and I am going to do it for as long as the good lord spares me."

But Mr Chamberlain's passion for the village church runs deeper. In the last eight decades he served on the church council, was an organ blower, used to ring the bell and once carried the processional cross.

He is also a sidesman and enjoyed a 20-year spell digging graves and a 30-year stint cutting the grass.

Mr Chamberlain served in the RAF for four years during the Second World War, with stints in Kent, Surrey, Newcastle and Hamburg, but throughout he remained a member of the choir.

For the last nine years he has also been a voluntary scheme visitor in the Wisbech area.

Rev Fitzgibbon said: "Walter turns up every week and hits all the right notes, but does lots of other things to support the church.

"He is an amazing character and a really good example of dedication and good-natured service.

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