Pulling out all the stops for organ

Father Kevin Smith and George Clark
Father Kevin Smith and George Clark
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A GRAND effort has begun to raise funds to restore a historic organ in time for a church’s centenary next year.

St Mary’s Church, in Horden, celebrates its 100th anniversary on April 26, next year.

The organ at the Blackhills Road-based place of worship is as old as its home, and a fundraising drive is underway to raise £90,000 to restore it back to its former glory in time for the centenary celebrations.

Since January, parishioners have already raised £12,000 towards the total, through grants, lunches and coffee mornings, with a further £13,000 pledged provisionally.

Father Kevin Smith from the church said: “The organ is in working order but has not had a complete overhaul since it was installed in 1913, so it is overdue.

“Some of the stops aren’t working to their full potential and one or two of the pedals aren’t working and the present case is quite plain so we are looking at getting a more ornate case.”

He said there are plans for a concert and the Bishop of Durham will also preside over a service as part of the centenary celebrations.

The two-manual organ was made by Durham-based Harrison and Harrison, who also built an organ for Westminster Cathedral, and, fittingly, the same company will carry out the restoration.

To help the appeal on its way, the Durham Freemasons has donated £1,000 from its benevolent fund.

Freemason George Clark, chairman of the benevolent fund, travelled from his home in Ryton, in Tyne and Wear, to present the donation.

He said: “We got a request from some members of the congregation who pointed out that the church is almost like the cathedral of the area.

“It was incredible, I had no idea it was there and was astounded when I saw it.

“The appeal is to restore such a historic piece that is so important to the community and this appeal will hopefully bring the community together to help preserve, in particular, the music of the church and the Harrison organ.”

Peterlee man Eric Smith, a Freemason who has been a member of the church for 60 years, is heading up the appeal and contacted Mr Clark with a request for help.

He said: “We didn’t expect anything, never mind £1,000, we are truly grateful.”

The fund is receiving a further boost from parishioner Lorna Griffiths, a teacher based in Trimdon, who also runs the church’s Sunday School.

She climbed Mount Snowdon, in Wales, on Wednesday in a brave effort to boost the total.

Fr Smith said the organ, which was played by Sylvia Terry until she passed away five years ago, has played a significant part in village life.

David Quinn, a former Durham Cathedral chorister, who now studies music at Oxford University, was a former St Mary’s Church organist and the current organist, Jordan Warren, is just 16.

Anyone wishing to help towards the appeal can call Fr Smith on (0191) 5867110 or Mr Smith on (0191) 5863748.