Armed with golden tonsils

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Colin Challis (94) is the oldest member of the Dunedin RSA choir.

The two oldest members of the Dunedin RSA choir will be in full voice on Anzac Day.

Colin Challis (94) and Jimmy Clegg (93) have been members of the choir since 1972 and will perform at the choir’s evening performance in the Dunedin Town Hall at 6.30pm on Anzac Day.

Mr Challis only expected to be a member short-term but enjoyed it so much he kept coming back for more.

Love of singing and the “fellowship” of the choir were the main reasons why.

Mr Challis served in World War 2 in Guadalcanal, Bougainville and New Britain as a leading aircraftsman with the RNZAF 30 Squadron servicing unit, working as a mechanic on small engines and vehicles.

He returned to New Zealand after the war to complete training to be a mechanic. He told The Star he was one of the youngest choristers in 1972.

“There was even First World War chaps in it when I first joined.”

First tenor Mr Clegg joined the choir the same year, although his path was rather different from Mr Challis’.

Mr Clegg was raised in Lancashire, England, and served with the Royal Navy before moving to New Zealand after World War 2.

Experienced . . . Dunedin RSA Choir singer Jimmy Clegg.

Mr Clegg served as a seaman on the battleship HMS Howe, sailing on several Arctic convoys protecting merchant ships.

He was serving on HMS Howe when it was deployed to the Mediterranean in 1943, where it took part in the surrender of the Italian fleet.

The fellowship and camaraderie of the choir holds a big attraction for Mr Clegg.

“People are so friendly,” he said.

Mr Challis said the choir had become more professional in recent years, with choristers doing vocal exercises before each performance.

He recalled one member had a different warm-up routine.

“One of the boys used to take a flagon of sherry and would have a sherry before we went on.”

Mr Challis and Mr Clegg were both named life members of the choir in 2013.