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Organist, aged 100, has been playing since 1927

11 January 2012

by Paul Wilkinson

Turning another page: Emlyn Warder last week

Turning another page: Emlyn Warder last week

EMLYN WARDER, who has played church organs for 85 years, marked his 100th birthday by playing for the first eucharist of 2012 at his church in Darlington.

Mr Warder, who was born on New Year’s Day in 1912, began playing at the age of 15 at St Mary’s, in the village of Kirkby Fleetham, near Northallerton, in north Yorkshire. He had been a member of the choir there since he was seven.

He took lessons from the organist at St Anne’s, five miles away in the village of Catter­ick, and took over there at 17, when his teacher moved away. He recalled that he received no salary, but the church paid for his music lessons.

An engineer by trade, Mr Warder spent his entire career with the North-East Electricity Board, retiring in 1978. He received a British Empire Medal.

He has played for churches in North York­shire and Co. Durham, and spent 31 years as organist at Holy Trinity, Darlington. He tried to retire from playing in his seventies, when he joined the congregation of the Salutation, Blackwell. “The first thing the Vicar said to me was: ‘Brilliant — we have been looking for an organist’. So I started playing again,” he said.

“I feel at home when I am playing. I can see things being done as I like them. Since being a little boy, I have been brought up with the Anglican faith. I have never, ever missed going to church on a Sunday morning.”

The Salutation has since merged with All Saints’, Darlington, and, although he no longer plays every Sunday, he performs at children’s and young people’s services, and on special occasions.

The Vicar at All Saints’ and Salutation, Canon John Dobson, said: “He is an excellent organist. He’s very ready to introduce new and up-to-date music. He enjoys people, and is just naturally friendly. He is utterly remarkable.”

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