Gerard pulls out all the stops

Gerard Brooks at the organ.
Gerard Brooks at the organ.

THE 150th anniversary of Caddonfoot Parish Church and the restoration of its magnificent pipe organ were celebrated last week with a stunning concert by internationally-acclaimed organist Gerard Brooks.

The director of music at Westminster’s Methodist Central Hall, who was best man at current organist Andy Bird’s wedding almost 20 years ago, almost lifted the roof with an inspirational performance.

“It was a fantastic night and one that we will all remember,” said Mr Bird. “I am indebted to Gerard for coming to Caddonfoot and doing us proud. I have known him a long time and I was so pleased that he was able to fit Caddonfoot into a busy musical schedule.”

Mr Brooks played music by Bach, Handel and Robert Schumann among others, and the favourite pieces were there, too, including Arrival of the Queen of Sheba and Trumpet Voluntary.

“I was just so delighted to be here,” reflected Mr Brooks after receiving a standing ovation.

Earlier, Mr Bird thanked Kelso organ builder David Stark for the “huge amount of time and effort and dedicated craftsmanship” he had put into the project.

The organ was gifted by Lord Craigmyle and installed in 1933. By 2004, after more than 70 years of service, there were a number of serious issues with the instrument and eventually the kirk session and congregational board, in agreement with the minister, the Reverend Morag Dawson, agreed on a refurbishment programme.

Work started in the summer of 2007 and was completed in the autumn of last year.

The occasion also marked the donation of an organ seat by Effie Brydon in memory of her late husband, Mike, clerk of the congregational board, and late father John Swanson.

The recital was attended by several notable figures, among them John Waldie, organist from 1954 to 1979, and Tom Fairbairn, the new moderator of Melrose and Peebles Presbytery.

The evening ended with refreshments and an opportunity for the audience to speak to Mr Brooks.

“That was a marvellous evening and one that I will always remember,” said Mrs Dawson.

Local councillor Gavin Logan added: “It was fitting that Caddonfoot Church was full to enjoy the beautiful music from such a renowned organist. Andy Bird and his team must be delighted all their hard work paid off and resulted in such a successful evening.”