Sunderland musician to help crown Queen’s 90th birthday

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Organist Ken Jolly will play a key part in a royal celebration as a prime-time programme marks the Queen’s 90th birthday.

The 90-year-old, from South Hylton, was first invited to join in the Maundy Thursday service in Windsor, where he was one of 90 pensioners who were gifted money as part of a tradition which has been carried out by the country’s monarch for hundreds of years as the last supper of Jesus us commemorated by Christians.

Ken Jolly with his granddaughter Emily Baker in Windsor.

Ken Jolly with his granddaughter Emily Baker in Windsor.

Now he is due to feature in tomorrow’s edition of BBC show Songs of Praise as it puts together a special show to mark the Queen’s birthday on Thursday.

He was filmed at St Garbriel’s Church, in Chester Road, where he spoke to presenter Pam Rhodes about his life and his work as an organ player at its services, with a chance they may include the performance he gave to the crew during the visit.

Ken began playing the piano at the age of eight before progressing onto the organ, first performing at St Nicholas’s in Barnes in 1942 as its regular player was signed up to the forces during the war, moving to St Garbriel’s in 1962, where he plays during each of its services.

Ken, dad to Sue, 59, and father-in-law to Brian Baker, 67, continues to give recitals throughout the year and gave a concert to mark his milestone birthday, which saw 280 people come together to listen to him and the Encore group.

“I love music and listen to all kinds” KEN JOLLY

Ken Jolly

Ken, who ran the WH Jolly bus firm in South Hylton which was set up by his father William Henry in 1922, was accompanied to Windsor by his granddaughter Emily Baker, 20, who is studying midwifery at Teesside University.

Her brother Oliver, 19, is following in his grandfather’s footsteps by studying music at the same university.

Ken, who was widowed 10 years ago when his wife Nalda died, said: “I was approached and they rang me up and said would I be prepared to take part in Songs of Praise for the Queen and at first I hesitated because when you’re old you wonder whether you can do it.

“I wanted to hit the right notes, rather than someone who on occasion hits the wrong ones.

“I was interviewed by Pam Rhodes at St Gabriel’s.

“I love music and listen to all kinds.

“I don’t think I’ll be watching the programme though, I think I’ll wait for somebody to tell me what it’s like before I see it.”

The programme will be shown tomorrow on BBC One at 4.25pm and will also be available via iPlayer.