When Chelsea Pensioner Colin Thackery starts to sing, there’s barely a dry eye in the house. Performing on Britain’s Got Talent last year in his iconic Scarlet, with a row of medals across his chest, he mesmerised the audience as he lifted his voice in memory of his beloved wife Joan. When he left the stage, he was told that even the technicians were crying. He captured the nation’s heart and won himself a place in the history books as the Show’s oldest-ever winner. We were cheering him on at War Horse Memorial as we had met him at the Royal Artillery Assembly in Blackpool in May last year when we were invited to speak to the delegates about our work.
Colin was born in March 1930 and is a Korean War veteran. He performed on an amateur basis throughout his life. As a boy, he sang in the church choir. In the Army, he took part in concerts on his troop ship on the way to Korea and, once there, was recruited to entertain the troops during a lull in the fighting. He also sang in a forces club when posted in Hong Kong. After retiring from the Army he joined a local operatic society.
Now a Chelsea Pensioner, he lives in the Royal Hospital Chelsea, where he moved after the death of his wife 2016, after 66 years of marriage. Thackery served in the Royal Artillery of the Army, and saw service in Malaya and the Korean War. His medals represent this service, the General Service Medal with clasp Malaya; the Korea Medal and the United Nations Korea Medal.
In the months that followed Joan’s death, music helped Colin to cope: “Without music, I don’t know what would have happened.” We are honoured that Colin, who is pictured here with Jenny Seagrove of Mane Chance Sanctuary and Poppy our War Horse, has performed at our Anniversary Ball at Ascot Racecourse last year and at our two virtual concerts, premiered on June 8 and August 23 this year to remember animal of war and animals in need. And we are proud that he is one of our celebrity ambassadors, supporting our partnership with the Royal Artillery Association.
Colin’s CD Love Changes Everything was released by Decca Records last December.