British Veterans with an average age of 79 years old have launched a new album to raise money to refurbish the Christopher Wren designed Royal Hospital Chelsea dormitories where they live in Central London. The album will compete with a new release from another British charity, called The Sound of Silence, it features celebrities and veterans standing in silent reverence for fallen soldiers, both are in anticipation of Britain's Armistice Day which coincides with America's Veteran's Day November 11.
British veterans from London's Royal Hospital Chelsea singing on their new album called Men in Scarlet. The Royal hospital is not a conventional hospital - rather a home to 300 army veterans, known for wearing bright red uniform coats.
Laura Hayes, who works at the hospital, says the building needs refurbishment. "It was built by Sir Christopher Wren over 300 years ago, commissioned by King Charles and obviously it's had a lot of history since then," she says, "We've had a lot of pensioners come through the doors, all retired Army veterans. It's been a big part of London, a big part of army life for over 300 years."
The proceeds from the album are to upgrade the housing for the veterans who live there. At 68 years old, Michael Allen is the youngest singer of the seven man singing group . "We live in very old fashioned accommodation and if we want the soldiers of the future, the lads that are out there fighting now, we've got to modernize, we really have to make it fit for them in the future," he says, "and we've got to raise 30 million pounds by 2017, it's a tall order, a lot of records."
Allen, who served as a military policeman in Borneo, Malaya and Northern Ireland says he never thought something like this would happen. "I've bought a lot of records, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would make a record, and it's been an exciting process, it really has," he adds.
He says he knows it will not be an actual record. "Yes, yes yes, they're albums or something like that I keep hearing things about digital downloads, which I'm totally confused on."
Aside from raising money for the hospital, Allen says there's another goal. "We are not hoping and we are not vying, we are going to be the Christmas number one album," he said.
They will have competition from another veterans charity. It has launched a video called The Sound of Silence, with celebrities and veterans standing in solemn silence.
The Men in Scarlet say they hope their album of classics released in time for Britain's Armistice Day, will become a best seller.