Church gets ready to play a different tune

Church organist Frank Lowe.
Church organist Frank Lowe.
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Parishioners at a church on the outskirts of St Helens have taken just nine months to raise enough cash to replace their dilapidated pipe organ.

Back in October last year bosses at Holy Trinity Parish Church in Ashton set themselves a daunting £30,000 fundraising target.

The 128-year-old church organ had seen little more than routine tuning and maintenance since being enlarged to its current size back in 1886!

Organist Frank Lowe said at the time: “The current organ has given us many years of sterling service but it has certainly seen better days.

“It was enlarged by Gray and Davison, the leading organ builders at the time, 127 years ago and has had very little work done to it since - which is incredible when you think about it.

“It would probably go for another 127 years - it’s solidly built - but the mechanical bits are now worn out.

“Quite understandably, after all those years there are now lots of parts which no longer work as they should.

“It’s a pity but it has now reached the stage where, to keep it going, a very expensive restoration would be required - costing somewhere in the region of £120,000.”

Instead, parishioners set about raising the cash required to buy a new electronic organ - from Phoenix Organs in Darwen - at a final price of £31,150.

The diocese’s organ advisor advised church chiefs not to spend another penny on the old organ and to instead work towards buying the new one, which is planned for installation in either the last week of August or first week of September.

Mr Lowe, whose father Harry Lowe was the organist at the Rectory Road church for 60 years from 1933, said: “We were all absolutely delighted to reach the target.

“A £1,000 donation from the Ashton Rotary Club and a promised donation of £500 helped us pass the target - so it’s all systems go now.

“It’s a remarkable achievement to raise so much money in such a short space of time.

“We only received our first donation on October 21 last year so it’s incredible that we’ve reached our target already.”

Earlier this year, Holy Trinity Church’s fund-raising Evening of Brass and Song, which featured performances from the Trinity girls’ band and up-and-coming St Helens tenor Tom Loughlin, attracted more than 260 patrons.

Mr Lowe, 74, who was previously the headteacher at the school associated with the church for 18 years, added: “It was a brilliantly successful evening and the two star turns did us proud.

“It was a winning formula.

“People turned out in big numbers - which was great to see - and it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, which helped to raise lots of money towards the church organ fund.”

Plans to hold a celebratory concert to mark the arrival of the new church organ and to thank parishioners for their support are already underway.