VIDEO: Many fond memories for retiring organist
Dozens of people thanked a church organist and choirmaster for years of commitment during his final morning service on Sunday.
Alan Hodgson, who turned 80 last month, took on the roles at St Michael’s Church, Alnwick, in 1989. He has retired due to health reasons.
Prior to being at St Michael’s, he was the organist and choirmaster at St Cuthbert’s Church in Amble for 14 years and he also ran Warkworth Village Choir for a number of years.
The South Charlton resident started playing the organ at the age of 14 in St Luke’s Church, Wallsend, when his dad broke both his wrists and officially took on the role aged 18.
Since then, he has played regular weekly services, at weddings and funerals and on Remembrance Day, St George’s Day and other significant days.
Over the years, Alan’s organist talents have been in demand for family weddings and other special occasions across Northumberland and elsewhere, including London, Nottingham and Durham.
Highlights at St Michael’s included playing when a BBC Songs of Praise episode was filmed at the church in the 1990s.
He said: “I have many fond memories of my time at each church. My main aim was to enhance the worship in church through music.
“I have always considered it a privilege to be at St Michael’s for various reasons and I greatly appreciated the reception I received on Sunday.
“I’ve had a strong relationship with the clergy over the years, especially with the present St Michael’s vicar – Reverend Canon Paul Scott – and the choirs have always been loyal.
“At St Cuthbert’s Church, its coastal location meant that salt was starting to effect the mechanics of the organ and so we decided to raise funds for a refurbishment.
“An eight-hour organ playing marathon was part of my contribution to the fund-raising.
“We had great support from the church community and many other people in the town over a 12-month period and 18 months after starting the campaign, it was successfully refurbished.
“I also enjoyed running Warkworth Village Choir, which was very active in the community.”
Alan, who was also a council planning officer, married Florence, his wife of 52 years, at St Luke’s Church and said she has given him great support in his organist and choirmaster roles.
They moved to Amble in 1974 and South Charlton in 1991.
They have one daughter, Gillian, and one granddaughter.
In the video, Alan plays a tune on the organ at St Michael's.