CHELSEA Pensioners have launched their annual festive celebrations - with the help of some North Yorkshire cheese.

They joined a ceremonial celebration of British cheese after the Wensleydale Creamery donated almost 5.5kgs of their famous products.

Vintage era singers Verity and Violet helped the pensioners get in the festive spirit with renditions of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

Cheese has been a favourite among British soldiers serving on the front line for centuries. The Chelsea Pensioners today consider the Ceremony of Christmas Cheeses the start of their Yuletide.

Dairy Council chairman Ash Amirahmadi said: “Cheesemakers across the UK have a great tradition of paying tribute to the courage and contribution made by our veterans, and this year they certainly didn’t disappoint.

“Cheese is a food of the forces.

It has been included in soldiers’ rations for centuries and that says it all – from its nutritional value to its much-loved taste, we have a great British product.”