Congregation thanks long-serving church organist

John Foster (right) making the presentation to Richard Wilkinson.

The congregation at St Andrew’s Church in Aysgarth thanked Richard Wilkinson for being the organist there for 20 years on Sunday.

Many had contributed towards the farewell gift which was presented to him by John Foster.

Mr Foster commented: “To be a church organist is a big commitment – much more than just playing on Sundays.

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“Richard has brought to it an encyclopaedic  knowledge of church and organ music. He has served us incredibly well.”

Members of Aysgarth Methodist chapel  were at the service because Dr Wilkinson has been a local preacher in the Methodist circuit since 1987.

There were also many families because of the special Easter activities for children.

When the service ended everyone accepted the Rev Penny Yeadon’s invitation to sit and listen to Dr Wilkinson play the Chorale Improvisation for  Organ No 65 by Siegfried Karg-Elert: Nun danket alle Gott (Now thank we all our God).

He was warmly applauded – and then the children with their parents and grandparents went outside to enjoy rolling the eggs they had decorated during the service.

Later Dr Wilkinson (who never accepted payment as an organist) said: “I would have very gladly paid the church for the privilege of playing at St Andrew’s because it’s a marvellous organ and they are super people there.  I love playing at the services.

“It is a Victorian organ but it is, in fact, remarkably like the organs of the Bach day – astonishingly similar. So it is perfectly possible to play Bach satisfactorily on it.”

The organ was installed in 1880 by M Abbot of Leeds from a design by J M Bottomley of Middlesbrough.

Dr Wilkinson will be playing at a few more services at St Andrew’s before he and his wife, Ann, move to Warwickshire on June 1. Geoff Hirst is now  the chief organist at St Andrew’s.