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Page last updated at 14:27 GMT, Monday, 13 December 2010
Northumberland pensioner 'determined' to beat X Factor
Brenda with pensioners Michael Allen and Malcolm Smart
Brenda with pensioners Michael Allen and Malcolm Smart

A woman from Northumberland is aiming for Christmas number one - with the help of the Chelsea Pensioners.

Brenda Sokell, from Cramlington, is hoping to beat The X Factor winner's single to the number one spot after winning a singing competition.

She was crowned the winner of the 'Singing Pensioner' on The Alan Titchmarsh Show after being chosen as the viewers favourite.

Now she is in London recording the single White Christmas with the band.

Singing Pensioner

Brenda came across the competition when she was watching The Alan Titchmarsh Show on ITV1.

The 62-year-old had never wanted to take part in talent shows such as The X Factor or Britain's Got Talent before and thought this was the ideal opportunity to show everyone her talent.

After sending off a demo and a photograph of herself, she made it through to the third heat.

She went through to the final on the show and was crowned the winner after receiving the most votes from the viewers.

She said: "When I won it was fantastic. I started singing at 40 when the kids had grown up and have spent a long time getting my confidence.

"It doesn't matter when you start, you can get your opportunity. This is like a new beginning for me."

White Christmas

finalists: Michael Allen, Sue Taylor, Brenda Sokell, Barry West, Vivian Leslie and Malcolm Smart
Brenda with the other finalists of the 'Singing Pensioner'

Brenda works part time as a professional singer in care homes, restaurants and at parties and weddings.

She has also sang in several bands over the years and performed as a backing singer.

Now she is in London recording the single White Christmas with the world's oldest boy band.

She said: "Recording the single is really exciting and I hope that it gets me more interest. I'm excited to see what it brings.

"I feel absolutely fantastic that we might beat X Factor. I feel really determined and I'd really like to beat them."

The mother-of-four met the Chelsea Pensioners during the competition and is thrilled to be recording a single with them. She said: "They are really lovely guys and they have been really supportive.

"I feel great that the single is for charity. I've seen where they live and I feel really honoured to be helping them."

Centuries of experience

The Chelsea Pensioners was founded in 1682 at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea by King Charles II.

The Chelsea Pensioners album Men in Scarlet
The Chelsea Pensioners album 'Men in Scarlet'

It was intended as a place of relief and support for veterans injured during the war. It remains there to this day, providing a home for 310 Chelsea Pensioners.

The seven Chelsea Pensioners is a group brought together by their love of singing and their desire to raise funds for the Chelsea Pensioners' Appeal.

They released their album Men in Scarlet in November which features duets with Katherine Jenkins, Dame Vera Lynn and Janey Cutler.

Pensioner Malcolm Smart said: "There has been such a great reaction from the public that we thought why not raise awareness further by going for the Christmas single.

"It's been so much fun that we wanted to get back into the recording studio anyway.

"We don't complain, we are very proud to represent the hospital but it needs modernising. The guys that are fighting in Afghanistan are the future generation of the Hospital. They would not want to surrender their pensions to live the way we do now."

All money from the album sales will go to the Royal Hospital Appeal to improve the Pensioners' living quarters in the Grade One listed building.

The single White Christmas will be released on 13 December 2010.



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