An age old tradition was greeted with extra Christmas cheer this year, as the Chelsea Pensioners were joined by Britain’s Got Talent (BGT) star, Charlotte Jaconelli at their Ceremony of the Christmas Cheeses.
The 300-year-old tradition started in 1692 when the Royal Hospital Chelsea asked a local cheesemonger to provide the pensioners with cheese as a Christmas treat.
A firm favourite of British servicemen, cheese has been handed out in soldier’s rations since the First World War. Now, British cheesemakers from all over the country continue the honour by donating a selection of cheeses at this annual ceremony.
A 24.75kg Montgomery Cheddar, donated by J.A.E. Montgomery, was ceremonially cut by Pensioner Derek Walters, aged 82.
He said: "It is an honour to represent my fellow Chelsea Pensioners today - cheese has always been an important part of our diet and we are always happy to receive this delicious Christmas gift.
The Dairy Council has supported the Ceremony for the last 55 years. Chairman of The Dairy Council, Sandy Wilkie, said: "The Ceremony of the Christmas Cheese is a much-loved event in the dairy calendar - it is a colourful and historic way of celebrating our great British cheeses.
"Every year cheesemakers from across the country pay tribute to the courage and contribution made by our war veterans by donating lots of our tasty British cheeses, and we at The Dairy Council are very proud to play a part in that.
During the ceremony this year, Charlotte Jaconelli, who shot to fame as one half of the BGT duo 'Jonathan and Charlotte', delighted the Pensioners with renditions of Pie Jesu and I Could Have Danced All Night, from My Fair Lady.