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Video: Muswell Hill violist completes 10km walking fundraiser before celebrating 100th birthday

PUBLISHED: 15:19 21 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:45 21 July 2020

Kenneth outside his Muswell Hill where he was congratulated by neighbours, friends and family. Picture: Kenneth Essex family

Kenneth outside his Muswell Hill where he was congratulated by neighbours, friends and family. Picture: Kenneth Essex family

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A Muswell Hill violist who recorded with The Beatles is walking 10km in 10 days for a hospital fundraiser ahead of his 100th birthday.

Kenneth with his 100th birthday cake. Picture: Kenneth Essex familyKenneth with his 100th birthday cake. Picture: Kenneth Essex family

A Muswell Hill violist has finished walking 10km in 10 days for a hospital fundraiser before his 100th birthday.

Kenneth Essex, a professional viola player for nearly 60 years, started fundraising for Islington’s Moorfields Eye Hospital on July 10.

The World War Two veteran and former Royal Marine finished his walk on July 19, the day before he celebrated his century innings with a cake and a letter from the Queen.

He was cheered on outside his home by neighbours, friends and family who sung ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow’.

A 100th birthday letter from the Queen. Picture: Kenneth Essex familyA 100th birthday letter from the Queen. Picture: Kenneth Essex family

Kenneth told the crowd: “Thanks everybody. I can’t tell you [enough], you’ve made my day.

“I’m just going to get rid of the crutches!”

Following in the footsteps of Capt Tom Moore who raised more than £32 million for the NHS for his 100th birthday, Kenneth thanked Moorfields Eye Hospital for his treatment of macular degeneration – the loss of eyesight.

The pensioner raised £16,000 (as of July 21) – exceeding his £15,000 target.

Kenneth Essex, 99, is walking 1km per day for Moorfields Eye Hospital, where he receives treatment for macular degeneration. Picture: Kenneth Essex familyKenneth Essex, 99, is walking 1km per day for Moorfields Eye Hospital, where he receives treatment for macular degeneration. Picture: Kenneth Essex family

Kenneth added: “The treatment I have received at Moorfields is exceptional. I cannot thank the NHS enough, especially at this difficult time.”

During his musical career, Kenneth played in the string quartet recording of Yesterday by The Beatles and the theme music of Fawlty Towers.

He performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra, and at Glyndebourne.

He has featured in Eurovision song contests and in the Royal Variety. He also played a solo in the music of the film The French Lieutenant’s Woman.

Kenneth taking a well-earned sit-down after his Herculean efforts. Picture: Kenneth Essex familyKenneth taking a well-earned sit-down after his Herculean efforts. Picture: Kenneth Essex family

Born the son of a Co-op baker and confectionery manager in Hinckley, Leicestershire, Kenneth learnt to play when his school offered violin lessons for six pence per week.

His father asked him if he’d like to have a go – and the rest is history.

Robert Dufton, Moorfields Eye Charity chief executive, said: “Kenneth is an inspiration and we can’t thank him enough for his support.

“Research into macular degeneration at Moorfields Eye Hospital and the UCL institute of Ophthalmology will help us understand this eye condition and change the lives of people with sight loss in the UK and around the world.”

Kenneth has played the viola for The Beatles and Fawlty Towers. Picture: Kenneth Essex familyKenneth has played the viola for The Beatles and Fawlty Towers. Picture: Kenneth Essex family

Kenneth’s fundraiser is at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kenneth-essex

To donate to Kenneth’s fundraiser click here.

Kenneth learnt to play as a child - and developed his musical passion from then on. Picture: Kenneth Essex familyKenneth learnt to play as a child - and developed his musical passion from then on. Picture: Kenneth Essex family


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