THE longest serving member of a male church choir has been honoured with a special concert to mark his 90th birthday.

Richard Henry has sung with St Mary's Church Male Voice Choir for an amazing 83 years.

The great, great grandfather, of Swiss Street, Accrington, joined the choir when he was just seven-years-old.

And now, as the choir celebrates its centenary year, he is still going strong.

He said: “I never think about how long it has been because it’s something I have always been used to doing - although I can’t sing like I used to! They are putting up with me now.

“I was a pupil at St Mary’s Elementary School and the choirmaster back then was the music teacher. I was pressed to join and I’ve been in it ever since.”

Richard, who was married to his wife Gertrude for 62 years, has two daughters, five grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren and one great, great grandchild.

Friends and family including his nephew from Belgium attended the event at St Mary’s Parish Church Centre.

The former engineer, who worked as a foreman at ROF in Lower Darwen, began his stint in the choir as a tenor.

He lists So Deep Is The Night among his favourite songs to sing, but also enjoys the Latin masses, operatic numbers and hits from the musicals which the choir performs.

And he welcomes the resurgence in choir singing led by the likes of celebrity choirmaster Gareth Malone.

He said: “We find it difficult to recruit young men so it’s good to see this renewed interest in choirs. Hopefully that will help.”

The choir, led by choirmaster Anthony Flanagan, was formed in 1912.

Les Rushton, 71, deputy choirmaster and secretary, praised Richard’s contribution.

He said: “He is known as ‘the father of the choir’.

“I think we worked it out that the total years’ service of the existing 23 members is about 930 years. The youngest member is 18.

“We believe we are the only Catholic male voice church choir in existence, because most churches of Christian religions have choirs but they are usually mixed.”