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Almost certainly a record

by Margaret Duggan

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THEY WERE waiting for con­firmation from Guinness World Records that Percy Jones was the longest-serving chorister in the world. He almost certainly was, because, at 100, he was still singing, and was known to be second only to another chorister, in Bristol, who died last year.

The congregation at his church, St John the Evangelist on Barrow Island, Carlisle diocese, celebrated his 100th birthday with him at Epiphany, and Elsie Low (pictured with him) made the cake they all shared. But, just as this page was about to go to print, news arrived that Mr Jones died last week.

The Priest-in-Charge at St John’s, the Revd Sheila Hughes, tells me he was “a lovely man”, optimistic, conscientious — particularly in all things to do with the church — and with a sense of humour.

He started singing when he was eight in the old Victorian church that was closed in 1933 and was replaced by the present St John’s, opened in 1935. Sight-reading had become difficult, but his tenor voice remained, and he liked to robe up most Sundays and sing the hymns from memory.

He had influenza over Christmas, and was taken into hospital for a while. He came back in a wheelchair that he was determined to dispense with. He had sung twice since his illness; he was pushed in for the procession and insisted on his wheelchair being turned so that he could bow to the altar on his way in and out.

The parish had held a special presentation on the occasion of his 99th birthday, which they intended to hold annually, and until the day he died he was looking forward to his 101st birthday.

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