THERE wasn’t a dry eye in the house when the oldest active brass band musician in the country performed for the final time.

George Adey, 92, received a standing ovation as he bid a poignant goodbye to his friends at Thundersley Brass Band during their Christmas concert.

Taking to the floor for the last time, third cornet player George, who took up the instrument at the age of 12, performed a solo in memory of his wife Violet, who died two years ago aged 87.

George, who lives in Brentwood, but was educated in Rayleigh, is leaving the band after three years to “make way for new blood”.

The pensioner performed an emotional rendition of the hymn Make Me a Channel of Your Peace, at the concert, held at Runnymede Hall, in Kiln Road, Thundersley.

George said: “They gave me a grand old send-off. It was a fantastic night.

“I had plenty of friends coming along to support me. I was just worried I would make a mistake.”

George feels that at his grand old age, it’s time to step down.

He said: “The band is getting really good and I didn’t think I should be taking up a place when the youngsters are coming through.

“My fingers aren’t as quick as they once were, but I’ll still be involved behind the scenes.”

George, who is officially the oldest playing band member in the country, delivered his final performance as a tribute to Violet, who is still very much in his thoughts.

George said: “She was a wonderful woman and the love of my life.

“We were married for 66 years. When she was near the end, she told me she was sorry we had never had any children.

“I told her ‘I’ve had a wonderful life with you and that’s all I could ever have wanted.”

George has played in a number of brass bands over the decades,including acclaimed and award-winning bands across the globe, but he took time off when Violet became ill, so he could look after her.

Then, when he saw Thundersley Brass Band playing at a village fete, he knew it was time to return.

He said: “I saw them playing at a fete and was keen to join.

“I approached them and they invited me to come on down and join in. I’m very grateful for that.”

Malcolm Barnes, a bass player for Thundersley, and one of the group’s founding members, said: “Ever since he’s been with us George has been 100 per cent committed to the band.

“He has been so loyal and a real inspiration to many of our younger members.

“He’s never even missed a day’s rehearsal. We hope he’ll be around for another 80 years. He’s a lovely guy.”