News of Members

Michael Spencer

We are sad to report of the sad news that our member Michael Spencer died about ten days ago, he had been unwell for some time. He was Director of Music of Dulwich Prep School and Director of St. Stephens, Dulwich. He retired to Kettleburgh and took up the post of organist at Brundish Church where he founded a choir which performed Bach Cantatas. He was also the conductor of the Madrigal Society.

Ann Smith

It was the unanimous decision of the Council to invite Ann to be a Life Member of our Association. She gracefully accepted at out recent AGM. It is in recognition of the dedicated support given by both Ann and her husband Bob, who sadly has recently died.

Simon Clark

We welcome Simon Clark FRCO who joins the Council.

Catherine Johns

We welcome new member Catherine Johns.

Tony Dunn

Tony Dunn is a very busy organist! He plays for one service each week in three different churches – Cressing (second Sunday) , Stisted (first and third Sundays) and Coggeshall (fourth and fifth Sundays) on a variety of instruments: two digital electronic organs (Eminent and Viscount) and one pipe organ originally by Manders. In addition, he plays on six Sundays in a year for an afternoon service at Bradwell juxta Coggeshall on a single manual Normal and Beard organ which has four stops (three enclosed) and is voiced very nicely. At Stisted there is a relatively new Community Choir , which sings for services (with him) and also does some community singing (not with him) and at Coggeshall there is the remains of an SATB choir , where the choir had left some time before he arrived and is slowly coming back – Tony reports that they are up to SAT (no B yet).

Earlier this year, Tony took up a vacancy on the RCO Study course to Denmark, so at two week’s notice, he went to Copenhagen, having chosen pieces from his repertoire not already chosen by the other six students appropriate to play on Renaissance / Baroque and modern organs.

The organist at Roskilde Cathedral, Bine Bryndorf, was the tutor. First was the five manual Marcussen organ (1995) in Copenhagen Cathedral – the organ stool is an armchair, which was remarkably comfortable and pedal playing was easy. Five movements including the Elevation from Couperin’s Mass for the Convents worked well here.

The next visit was to vor Friesens Kirke which has its original (1698) Baroque casing – amazingly detailed wood carving with two life size elephants supporting the casework. Tony enjoyed playing Bach’s Toccata in C BWV564 here. There were fantastic views over Copenhagen from the top of the “helter-skelter” steeple. Roskilde Cathedral is the burial place for the Danish Royal Family and has an organ which dates from the Renaissance (the Positif) and the early Baroque (the other two manuals) period.

The next visit was to Frederiksborg Castle, where there is an original Compenius Organ dating from 1611 with some ivory pipes and an ivory pedalboard. Each course member took it in turn to operate the bellows! Tony had been learning some 16th century Italian music by Cavazzoni with five short movements which came in handy here and allowed exploration of different stop combinations.

Next the party moved on to Hamlet country - Helsingor St Mary's. A modern Marcussen (1998) after Johan Lorentz (1641), where they played Buxtehude’s music as his home was nearby and he had been organist there from 1660-1668. Finally, back to Copenhagen Garnisons Kirke, a Carsten Lund (1995) three manual organ in the style of the organs Tony remembered playing in the Hanseatic cities and appropriately here they played early works of J S Bach.

Finally, Gruntvigs Kirke – a modern church which looks like a huge organ from the outside. Inside it has three organs: a small organ with 7 stops, a Choir two-manual Marcussen (1940) organ and a huge Marcussen (1965) four manual organ. Tony was thrilled by the amazing experience of playing Buxtehude on the two Marcussen organs.

Many thanks to Tony for letting us know about this wonderful opportunity to hear about his experience of organs in Denmark .

Wolfgang Hauser and Tony Percival

Two stalwart members of the Association have resigned recently: Wolfgang Hauser and Tony Percival. Both had been very long standing loyal members of out Association for many years.

James Crowe

Members will have received Journal No. 121 which covers the calendar year 2015. James Crowe, Honorary Journal Editor, has produced another 'magnificent' edition running to 117 pages with very full description of all the activities and personalities that make our Association so vibrant. Another is promised during the summer.

News of our Student Members

If you are one of our younger members and are reading this, and you are being mentioned then please let us have more information of how you are progressing so this website can be up-to-date. If you are a young person playing the organ but not already a member and you would like to join us then please get in contact. We do help with bursaries for tuition!

Alice Smith

Alice Smith will be joining Peterborough Cathedral as the organ scholar starting from September. Alice has been organ scholar at St Peter Mancroft, Norwich and will be giving her final recital at St Peter Mancroft on Saturday 30th July at 1pm to mark the end of her time there.

Alice Smith has been offered a conditional offer of an organ scholarship at Magdalene College, Cambridge and we wish her well in her studies. She will succeed Ben Banks at Peterborough this autumn.

Ben Banks FRCO

Our congratulations go to who has completed his Music degree at Oxford University gaining a First and also the Fellowship of the Royal College of Organists (FRCO). He is to spend a year now at Peterborough Cathedral as Organ Scholar.

Adam Chillingworth

14 year old Adam Chillingworth accompanied the whole of Evensong Service at St Mary le Tower including Stanford in B flat and 16 verses from Psalm 119. Martin Ellis remarked that "It was really a professional performance. Well done Adam!"

Harrison Cole

Harrison Cole, who was organ scholar at Wells Cathedral from 2018-2019, is now Senior Organ Scholar in his third year at Trinity College Cambridge, reading for a degree in Music. As an accompanist and chamber musician, Harrison enjoys a varied schedule of playing with instrumentalists, singers and choirs, and has played in a variety of venues across the country and Europe. Outside of music, Harrison has a keen interest in a wide variety of literature, philosophy, and history.

Alex Evans

Alex Evans, who won the Advanced Class , has been appointed DOM at Hinde Street Methodist Church – part of the West London Mission – from later this summer. We congratulate him on this extraordinary achievement at the age of 18 in such an important Church in Methodism. He has been the organ scholar at St Thomas’s Brentwood for three years where he has had experience of taking choristers' practices and conducting the Choir during Services.

Here are results of the last competition. Please note that there will be no Competition in the Ipswich Arts Festival programme this year. : The winners in the Organ Competition on Saturday 22 September 2018 were Recital Class: Jamie Robertson. Advanced Class: Alexander Evans Transitional Class: Alex Taylor Beginners Class: Hannah Meeks Most promising Student Class: Alex Taylor.

Congratulations to our youngest member – Alex Taylor – on gaining Grade 5 Organ. In the same exam session he also gained Grade 5 Guitar both with Distinction!

Deaths of Members

Colin Edgar RIP

We have recently learned of the death of Colin Edgar who had been organist at Stowmarket Parish Church many years ago and organist in the Stonham Benefice more recently. He was also for many years conductor of the Suffolk Police Choir. We send our condolences to his widow and family. He died in February 2023.

John Wearne RIP

We are sorry to have to inform you of the death of John Wearne who was organist at Museum Street Methodist Church. John had suffered several bouts of ill health in the past couple of years and was confined to bed at the end. He died peacefully just after midnight on Friday morning with his family around him. Our Hon. Secretary, Stephen Hogger said "I will always remember him being very welcoming when we went to tune or as he put it "tweak" the organ and a real character. I think the last event he attended was the memorial recital for Martin Ellis at Tacket Street."

The funeral was held at Museum Street Methodist Church, Ipswich with the service conducted by The Reverend Derek Grimshaw. Music played a big part in John's life andrevelaed in the choice of five hymns [Great is thy faithfulness / O Praise ye the Lord / Love divine, all loves excelling / O Lord My God, when I in awesome Wonder / The day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended]. All with resoundingly musical themes and reflecting, also, John's love of nature allowed the organist to bring the organ alive which was a feature of John's own enthusiastic 'pull out all the stops' soundscape. He would have been very appreciative. Music for the start of the service was the Elegy by George Thalben-Ball and the family left to War March of the Priests by Felix Mendelssohn. Bishops maintain this instrument and the organist was David, a member of Bishops' team aided by Simon Pulham, the Ipswich Manager at Bishops. Two members of SOA were present: Robert Waller and Andrew Garfath-Cox.

Dave Kynnersley RIP

We sadly record the death of Dave Kynnersley. Our condolences go to Michaela Cottee, his partner of many years.

Bob Smith RIP

We sadly record the death of Bob Smith. Bob and Ann have been members for many years and regularly attended meetings and trips away. Bob played at St Mary’s Hadleigh following a career in the RAF.

Marcus Knight RIP

Marcus Knight a long term member of SOA died at the age of 92. He was organist at The Ark Baptist Church in Dunmow Essex.

Enid Hunt RIP former President of SOA )

Our Hon. Secretary, Stephen Hogger writes: It is with great sadness I have to inform you of the death of Enid Hunt. She was a long standing member and a former president who regularly attended meetings and our away trips until age prevented her. The funeral was on Friday 29 July at St. Andrew's Church, Britannia Road, Ipswich. IP4 5HF. Enid had been a long standing member of this church near to her home. She had chosen three inspiring hymns, 'Angel voices ever singing', 'The King of love my Shepherd is', which was one of her favourites and the closing hymn was 'Lord for the years your love has kept and guided'. Our Hon Secretary Stephen Hogger was the organist and after an instrumental version on CD of the Gaelic Blessing by John Rutter, the coffin left, followed by the friends and relatives to a medley of Gilbert and Sullivan well-known marches composed for the occasion by Stephen, for the committal outside the church.

From the Reflections on Enid's Life by Roderick Wells, and the comments of the Reader,John Gillett we learned that she had been at Northgate Grammar School for Girls, leaving there with a distingished set of grades. A comment from her piano teacher when she attained a merit in Grade 4 piano about Enid was that she was 'clear and level-headed'. This was subsequently shown in her very successful career in nursing, first in London, and subsequently at Ipswich Hospital rising to the prominent position of Sister and then moving into Nurse Education where she was greatly admired by her students for her calm, pragmatic and clear support but also for her warm-hearted, caring, gregarious and giving nature with a great sense of humour.

From her father she inherited a long standing interest in football. With her strong Christian beliefs, she was a representative on the Deanery Synod, took a keen interest in the work of the Ipswich Town pastors and in lay ministry training.

Among all these commitments, she had time to be President of our Association and although I only met her on one occasion, and with Stephen was the only member of SOA present at her funeral, many other older members will recall her contribution and agree with the statement that 'Enid was a great lady!'

David Brand RIP

Arthur Jones RIP

Juliette Adams writes: "On 11 February 2022, I attended Arthur Jones's funeral at St. Augustine's Church in Ipswich. Arthur was 92. He had been a loyal supporter of Suffolk Organists' Association for many years. I first met Arthur at St. Elizabeth Hospice in 1990 when I played there for communion services.

For many years, Arthur was employed by Suffolk County Council as County Bridge Engineer. He was a chartered Structural Engineer. In the tribute at the funeral service his son-in-law, Derek Dunne, mentioned how Arthur delighted in using his slide rule to do complicated calculations! Music was an important pastime for Arthur and he enjoyed playing the organ. His wife, Pam, has already offered me some of Arthur's organ music to add to my repertoire. At St. Augustine's, Arthur gave generously of his time to church affairs. His very pleasant, positive personality was a great asset in forming relationships in his mangement roles. The County Council was fortunate to have had a person of Arthur's calibre on board for so many years.

Sadly in the last years of his life Arthur suffered from dementia. We shall miss Arthur as we remember Pam and her family at this time."

Gillian Wildney RIP

Stephen Hogger, our Hon. Secretary writes: "It is with much regret that I have to report the death of Gillian Wildney. She was an active member for very many years as well as organist in several churches round and about the Clacton area.

She will be greatly missed both in the Clacton area where she served many churches, and in the SOA where we often enjoyed her company, playing, and sense of humour. I remember her bringing her church choir to Stowmarket when I was organist there and not only did they sing but they rang hand bells and blew a rendition of the Minuet Gothique on a set of redundant stopped flute pipes much to the delight of the audience.

May she rest in Peace and rise in Glory."

Her funeral was held on Thursday 17th February 2022 at 11.30am at Frinton Roman Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart and St.Francis, 114 Connaught Ave, Frinton-on-Sea CO13 9AD, where she was latterly the organist. Gillian would have been delighted that Peter Crompton played the organ for the Requiem for which she had chosen all the music and that Andrew Stevens who maintains this organ was present too. Robert Waller and Andrew Garfath-Cox representing the Association were among the packed congregation; a tribute to how well loved Gillian was by so many relatives, friends, pupils and neighbours. An obituary will follow.

John David Budgeon RIP (Sept 1932 - Sept 2021)

Below you will find an obituary for life member John Budgen. He will have been known to many of our older members as manager of the Ipswich branch of Bishop & Son. It is hoped a concert will be held in his memory next spring at Framlingham Parish Church.

Simon Pulham writes:

The passing of John Budgen at the age of 89, marks the end of an era. A career spanning seven decades might be almost evenly divided between those years with Bishop and Son and those as an organ builder in his own right. Many people will have read his book ‘An Organ Builder looks Back’ published in 2017. In the course of the narrative, we are introduced to many of the characters who inhabited the trade that he entered in the early 1950’s. Many of them had started their careers in the early C20 and John revelled in recalling many of their stories, providing us with a link in the trade stretching back over a century.

John, it seemed, remembered every instrument he had ever seen. He was able to describe most of them and nearly always an appraisal of their tonal qualities. He was always pleased to share information and on being advised of some new discovery, he was always interested, and pleased to acknowledge the source. I recall a well-known ‘authority’ on organs in Norfolk claiming that an instrument was by Holdich and that they could remember a name plate to that effect on the console. ‘Well,’, said John ‘I saw that organ whilst on holiday in the late 1940’s and there was no plate then – an old boy in the village said it was an organ by Corps’. In the course of time, a contemporary newspaper cutting was found in the archives, which confirmed that it was indeed by Corps.

John’s passion was essentially for the English organ. He once described the ‘classical’ era of half a century ago as an arid experience for him. The Arthur Harrison organ at Clifton College, where he was a pupil of Douglas Fox, remained dear to his heart. There are many stories to be told of encounters with various luminaries in the organ world, including Canon Gordon Paget who used to bring him up a cup of cold tea in the morning, whilst lodging at his rectory.

John always tried to let an instrument inform him, rather than stamp an alien tonal scheme on it. This often resulted in a subtle reworking of an organ. There was a time when many commented that he had not gone far enough. Indeed, I remember seeing an instrument 50 years ago in a local church and commenting to my RE teacher that it still had those ‘old fashioned composition pedals’. ‘Typical of Bishops’ said my teacher ‘leaving all that old stuff in place’. In these days of conservative restoration there could surely be no finer compliment!

John was a great raconteur and many will miss his sense of humour and quick wit. John is survived by Janet his wife and Rebecca his daughter, to whom we extend our condolences. For me, I have lost a friend and mentor. May he rest in peace.

Mike Pluck RIP

Sadly we record the death of another very loyal member of the Association. Mike Pluck from Lion Walk URC Colchester will be familiar to many of you who attended events and he was at the Annual Lunch last February. He was admitted to Colchester Hospital several months ago with a severe infection for which treatment continued and he seemed to be on the mend. He succumbed to Covid-19, contracted in Hospital, on Monday this past week.

Catherine Ennis RIP

We record the death of Catherine Ennis who has been a good friend of the Association over the years. She had been invited to adjudicate for the Organ Competition which was cancelled. Some members will recall her invitation to visit St. Giles Cripplegate many years ago where we played the instrument there.

Martin Ellis FRCO RIP

You will saddened to hear that Martin, our late President of the Association, died on Thursday, 30th January 2020, at his home with Miriam at his side to whom we send our sincere condolences. His funeral was held at Museum Street Methodist Church on Saturday 22 February 2020 at 11am.

Lilian Caudle

Sadly our member Lilian Caudle aged 105, who was our oldest member and most probably our oldest member ever, has died. She died the day after what would have been her 75th Wedding Anniversary. As promised here are the details of Lilian Caudle’s funeral.

The main service will be at St Mary-le-Tower in Ipswich on Tuesday 10th March 2020 at 2pm followed by refreshments in church. The committal and burial will be at Debenham Parish Church on Tuesday 24th March at 11am (Please note change of date) with a short service in church where she started her organ playing career in 1930 followed by an opportunity for organists to play the little organ there whilst people are partaking of refreshments in church to celebrate her love of music.

Gillian Cleaver RIP

Two of our members have recently died. Miss Gillian Cleaver with her sister were actively engaged in attending meetings and visits together with David Brand until age and infirmity put a stop to their participation. Juliette Adams, who knew them both well, played for her funeral at Wetherden Church.

David Hatcher RIP

David Hatcher has also died. He played in the Clacton area.

It is with great sadness that we report the recent deaths of two former Presidents of the Association, Derrick Hibberd and Dawn Harding.

Derrick Hibberd RIP

Derrick Hibberd was a staunch supporter of the SOA for many years and worked tirelessly as Secretary organising many of our overseas trips and those nearer to home. Last year he was awarded Honorary Membership. A full obituary will be printed in the Journal. Those who enjoy reading the March 2019 edition of Organists' Review will have spotted the fine tribute that Juliette Adams, a member of our Council has written. She writes, " It was with much sadness that I learned of Derrick Hibberd's death in October 2018. From 1984 to 1996 Derrick was Secretary of Suffolk Organists' Association. He carried out his duties with utmost diligence, discretion and efficiency. During his time as Secretary out membership peaked to 160. Events were well supported including trips abroad. Derrick was able to form good working relationships with the Presidents. I certainly appreciated Derrick's firm support and encouragement when I was President of the SOA. He himself served as President when he stepped down as Secretary. Derrick grew up in Sheffield, but lived in Suffolk with his family (four sons) for many years. His father was bery involved in the church music scene in Yorkshire so Derrick had exposure to church music at an early age. Prior to taking on the role of SOA Secretary Derrick was employed as a CID Detective. In his role as Secretary Derrick kept us in good order! He was instrumental in ensuring that the goals of our association were properly managed. The years from 1984-1996 were a very bright chapter for SOA. We remember Derrick with much affection and respect."

Dawn Harding RIP

Dawn Harding died in hospital just before Christmas and was the wife of Past President John Harding. As a non-organist her presidential year also included during organ visits activities for other non-players to do. Her skills in the kitchen were legendary and teas after events took on a whole new level of excellence. Her funeral will be on Wednesday 23rd January at 3.45pm at Seven Hills Crematorium.

Peter Jackaman RIP

Earlier in the year, Peter Jackaman, organist for more tham 50 years at Bramford Parish Church died on the 29 March 2018. His funeral took place on 2 May at 11.15am in that church. He was a very loyal member of our Association for very many years.

Don Monro RIP

We also remember Don Monro, a stalwart member of our Associaton and a frequent attendee on many of our visits whose funeral was at Thorpe le Soken parish church in January 2018 and another dedicated post holder for more than half a century.

Michael Simmonds RIP

A dedicated member of SOA whose photographs frequently recorded events in our Journals.