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Chorister who performed at Queen's 1953 coronation says platinum jubilee brought back 'amazing memories'

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WATCHING the choir sing at St Paul’s Cathedral service of thanksgiving during the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations at the weekend brought back happy memories for one Milford man.

Adrian Dence (83) had the pleasure of singing as a young boy for Her Majesty when he was a member of the choir at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.

In fact, he actually performed with the group at the Queen’s coronation at Westminster Abbey on 2nd June 1953.

Adrian was a member of the St George's Chapel choir
Adrian was a member of the St George's Chapel choir

He said: “It was wonderful watching the choir at the platinum service. They were really fantastic and carried out their duties flawlessly.

“It brought back amazing memories. But I also knew how nervous they must be feeling performing on such a momentous occasion.”

Adrian was just 12 when he became one of St George’s 20 treble choristers. He had won a scholarship from what he called “obscurity” in Kent to being part of one of the most famous choirs in the world.

He said: “My parents were absolutely thrilled and were so proud when I sang at the coronation.”

Before the coronation another huge occasion he sang at was the funeral for the Queen’s father, King George VI, who died on 6th February 1952.

He said: “I can remember feeling the weight of the event. The royal ladies were all wearing black veils. I was crammed in with the rest of the choir next to Winston Churchill. It was a very sad day.”

Adrian with his family. He now sings every Sunday at Christchurch Priory
Adrian with his family. He now sings every Sunday at Christchurch Priory

Adrian revealed the huge amount of rehearsing and planning that goes into the performance of a choir at a royal event.

He said: “There were lots and lots of rehearsals. There was a lot of discipline too.

“It was made very clear to us that we were to be on our best behaviour and stand stock still.

“We were supposed to look straight forward at all times but I did manage to catch a glimpse of the queen during the ceremony. She looked beautiful.”

There were also more practical problems for the choir to tackle, explained Adrian, a retired food scientist: “We had a packet of sandwiches and a bottle of milk. We were told to drink the milk and if we needed the toilet, we were to use the bottle discreetly! Luckily, I didn’t need to.”

All the choir members were given a coronation medal which Adrian still has to this day.

He said: “I still sing in the choir at Christchurch Priory and I wear it every Sunday. I don’t think I’ve actually missed a Sunday in my life.”

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