For 62 years Ray Harper placed his sheet music on the organ before sitting down to play at services in Chester’s churches.
Now he is donating his sheet music to raise funds for charity.
The 85-year-old of Blacon retired in November and is offering his sheet music for donations to go to Macmillan Cancer Support pay for nurses – so far he has raised £255.
Ray said: “Having celebrated my 85th birthday I decided to call it a day as a church organist.
“I believe I was given a God-given gift and I thought it was only right I use it in his service.
“Now, I wish to pass on the organ music in my library to other organists.”
Ray’s first stint was at St Mary’s Church, Handbridge, in September 1951 with his last at St Werburgh’s RC Church.
In between he performed at St Chad’s Church Blacon, Blacon Army Camp Chapel, St Bartholomew’s Sealand,
Holy Trinity Church Chester, Holy Trinity Without-the-Walls Blacon and St John the Evangelist Ashton Hayes.
During his 14 years at St Werburgh’s Ray he played at Sunday evening services at St John the Baptist Aldford and St Mary’s Bruera.
Playing provided humorous anecdotes.
He said: “I arrived at St Werburgh’s one Sunday morning to be told they thought the blower had gone on the organ.
“I switched the organ on and it made very loud raspberry noises.”
Ray realised the embarrassing fault was in fact a piece of loose leather inside.
And he faced many late brides.
Ray said: “One wedding was supposed to start at 1pm. I’d been playing since 12.30pm but the bride didn’t turn up until 3pm. I had to leave at five to three because I had another service that day.”
Another tardy bride promoted Ray to share a secret musical joke with the choir.
He said: “As I played I slipped in a few notes from the song Why Are We Waiting?
On another occasion a curate received similar treatment.
Ray said: “The curate used a lot of incense. At the end of the gospel I played a fanfare and included a bit of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.
Music brought Ray and wife Brenda together after she joined St Chad’s choir.
When he retired from his day job in 1994 he was principal superannuation officer at Cheshire County Council.
He worked as a freelance photographer covering Chester City football matches.
For the past 12 years Ray has contributed every week to The Chronicle’s music category in the What’s On section.
To obtain a list of available music ring Ray on 01244 372822.