Amazing Rene loves to play Amazing Grace

Rene Warner will be back in her seat on Sunday to begin her 80th year playing the organ at Trunch Methodist Church.

Mrs Warner took a rare break from her musical duties yesterday to celebrate her 91st birthday with family in Ling.

Trunch-born Mrs Warner, nee Wegg, started playing in the village's former primitive methodist chapel at the tender age of 11.

The congregation united with Trunch's Wesleyan chapel when the present church opened 73 years ago and she remembers playing for the second Sunday service in the new building.

Her love of music stretches back to the age of four when she recalls propping a book on a big chiffonier at home which she pretended to play, as if the piece of furniture was a piano.

Until the age of nine however, she had to make do with slipping next door to play the organ at the Post Office.

But when Trunch's village school closed her father bought its harmonium for 15 shillings and there was no stopping the young Rene who began having lessons. She played her first organ solo in the village hall and recalls that her teacher had to operate the pedals as her pupil's legs were too short to reach them.

Most Read

Another memory is of a concert party visit to Trunch which gave her a chance to enter a talent show. She shared the one shilling (5p) first prize with a boy violinist from nearby Bradfield.

As an adult she gave piano lessons herself, charging children 6d (2.5p) per hour.

Mrs Warner, who has two daughters, four grandchildren and three great grandchildren, said she would carry on playing the organ for as long as she could.

'I've had lots of falls and breakages and trips to hospital but when I can play, I do. I love it. If it weren't for playing, I could easily give up,' she added.

'I especially love jolly hymns - much more than the solemn, morbid ones although I have to play them for funerals of course.' Her personal favourites are How Great Thou Art and Amazing Grace.

A stalwart of Trunch, where she had lived throughout her long life, Mrs Warner did a 21-year stint as editor of village newsletter the Trunch Mardle, and was Trunch correspondent for our weekly sister paper, the North Norfolk News, for 40 years.