Organ society to hold first president’s reception

swos richard godfrey
South West Organ Society president Richard Godfrey (photo by Denise Mansfield)

THE South Wessex Organ Society (SWOS) will hold its first exclusive event this spring when members and their guests gather for the president’s reception.

The event will be held on Friday, April 13 from 7pm to 9pm at the Eype Centre for the Arts, near Bridport, and offers the chance for members to meet each other and the officers of this new charity, as well as enjoy some live entertainment and refreshments in the beautiful surroundings of the centre.

There will be champagne and canapés before the entertainment begins, and Philip Sturrock, SWOS chairman and a past chairman of the International Organ Festival held biennially in St Albans, will talk about the charity’s aims and plans.

Richard Godfrey, the society’s president, and Peter Lea-Cox – both well-known local musicians – will play a selection of short, light-hearted pieces arranged for two pianos and for piano and organ.

Their programme will include ‘The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba’ by Handel, a polka by John Field, and ‘Country Gardens’ by Percy Grainger, plus some exciting, newly discovered manuscripts by a notable local composer.

The literary and visual arts will also be represented at the event. Nick Hillyard, who is an expert on Thomas Hardy as well as an accomplished potter, will speak about Hardy and read some of his poems.

Nick’s pots will be on display alongside the wonderfully characterful work of Devon ceramicist Gilly Humphreys, who first learned her skills under Nick’s tutelage.

“I’m looking forward to meeting our members and their guests at what promises to be a great event,” said Mr Godfrey.

“The society is still very new, and although we’ve organised a couple of public recitals, this is the first opportunity for members to get together for a fun evening with some informal entertainment. It’s also a chance for me and the other officers to hear feedback from members about how the society’s doing so far.”

The event is open to members and their guests at £15 per person.

Encouraging the appreciation of organ music

The South Wessex Organ Society – the successor to the well-established Lyme Regis Organ School – was founded in 2017 and aims to encourage organ playing and the appreciation of sacred and secular organ music across the region.

It works towards this purpose both through recitals and concerts and through practical courses that encourage existing organists on their musical path.

Membership of the society is open to all, organists and non-organists alike. Annual membership is £15 for a single and £25 for a couple living at the same address. Members’ subscriptions provide a vital source of income, but equally important is their involvement in helping the society to achieve its aims.

The benefits of membership include special members’ events – including the annual president’s reception – as well as priority booking for other society events and a regular newsletter. Members will also take part in electing the board of trustees who manage and direct the society.

The society has access to the world-class Škrabl organ in St Michael’s Parish Church in Lyme Regis, with its 50-rank, three-manual mechanical action, as well as to many other fine organs in Devon and Dorset.

More information is available on the society’s website,

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