Dr Geoffrey Lockwood was appointed organist at New Mill 25 years ago and he's still happily in situ.
If I were to keep a daily diary, it might read as follows:
"Tuesday 8 October 1996: arrive home after long day at work. Settle down to read newspaper, fall asleep as usual. Wake around 7pm. Should I go to the harvest social at New Mill Church, do some marking or fall asleep again? Decide to go to harvest social, a musical evening organised by Geoffrey Richardson.
7.25: Arrive, sit at back of church. Still half-asleep, wonder why warden insisted I sit further forward.
7.30: Concert starts - am suddenly jolted fully awake. Now clear why choir members had wanted to leave previous week's practices on time. Not exhaustion, but to visit Geoffrey Richardson for further rehearsal for this concert - a recognition of my completing 25 years as organist at New Mill! It has been kept secret from me for months.
Perhaps the end of 25 years is an apt time to look back on what is my first and current organ post, and on events leading to it. I suppose I was first attracted to the organ when, as a youngster of six or seven, I accompanied my father, Derick Lockwood, to evensong at Holmfirth Parish Church, where he was organist.
I sat on the back row with my grandmother, and enjoyed the music. My father was also my piano teacher, and he gave me (aged 11 or 12) my first organ lessons from Stainer's tutor. His story is maybe more eventful than mine. He had been taught in his youth by Hubert Beever, then organist of Bethel Methodist Church, Brighouse, and a piano teacher of repute, the youthful Keith Swallow (Hubert's nephew) being one of his pupils.
My father's first organ post was at Hinchliffe Mill Chapel, where he was appointed on trial, against eighteen applicants, having not previously played the organ (nor indeed even seen a pedalboard!), with three weeks practice before playing his first service.
Maybe this had to do with his local reputation as a pianist (ATCL diploma at 15), maybe the influence of Mr. Beever. He later played the organ for an "Elijah" performance at Bethel Church, with Keith on piano and Hubert conducting. He moved to Holmfirth Parish Church some years later, where he stayed as organist and eventually also choirmaster until retirement.
One of his predecessors at Holmfirth was Albert Heeley, who left in 1948 for Scotland, eventually becoming organist at St. Mary's Cathedral, Glasgow. His younger brother Harold was organist at Holmfirth Wesleyan Methodist Church, presiding at a three-manual Binns organ, scrapped when the church closed down some 30 years ago. I remember as a youngster having had only a few lessons on the organ being taken to "have a go" on it.
Only days before the chapel's closure, Harold Heeley passed on to me some of his organ music which he said he wouldn't need again. I still use this regularly, and I also play from some of Hubert Beever's copies, too. I was at this time interested in the possibility of building a home organ which has never materialised.
I bought the keyboards, pedalboard and some of the pipes from this organ. The keyboards happily were used in the recent rebuild of the New Mill organ by Wood of Huddersfield, a big improvement on the originals.
I had joined the choir at New Mill Church, and I played occasionally for the Sunday School services ("Do no sinful action", "Sing to the Lord the children's hymn" were among the top ten hymns then), and later as a deputy for other services.
I joined the Huddersfield Organists' Association when I was 15, and I owe much of my interest in organ matters to the encouragement I had then.
Apart from my father, and Geoffrey Richardson who has helped and encouraged me at New Mill since those days, I remember particular sources of inspiration in George Booth (who seemed to me then to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of organs around the country), Lawrence Armitage (always keen to encourage and help), but I watched and listened in awe (and still do) when Douglas Bell would slide onto the organ stool, draw a stop or too, and play
At 18 I became a student at Cambridge University where, though reading science, I had free use of the college organ, a three-manual Norman and Beard which has since been replaced by, I understand, a much smaller, classically voiced instrument.
Here I had no musical commitments apart from playing for a small number of chapel services (the chaplain was Revd. Nigel McCulloch, now Lord Bishop of Wakefield) when the organ scholar was away. I was able to practise regularly in a warm chapel. I was also able to attend organ recitals regularly, usually three or four per week at various college chapels.
I remember Stephen Cleobury, then a student at St. John's College, play the Reubke Sonata on King's organ.
I remember Francis Jackson's visit to my own college, Christ's, where he had to have an extension G-clamped to the fixed existing organ seat which was set too far back for him.
I remember a series of lunchtime recitals at Corpus Christi college where Edward Higginbottom played the entire organ works of Bach.
Then three years later I returned to New Mill, and so started my first organ post twenty five years ago.