Catfield organist looks back on 60 years in the game

In the church organist game, it seems, consistency is important.

Catfield Church Organist George Hawkes has only had two Sundays off in 60 years, and was recently honoured for his decades of service to the village.

George has been organist at the church since 1952, age 18. He took over after a time spent helping out the then organist, who developed arthritis, and never looked back, going on to play at weddings and funerals all over Norfolk, and wider, including Lancashire

George said: 'It is quite a commitment, but the consistency and stability is important to me, I have support from church and family.

'It is a very rewarding job and certainly has given me a certain amount of pride, I just felt happy and grateful that I could do it.'

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George's musical commitment doesn't stop in the church, he has also been conductor of the Hawkeswood Singers, a local choir, for the past 20 years.

He added: 'I suppose the best thing about it is playing to a choir. When I was younger, the sound would hit me, to just play with and hear people singing nicely, singing well, was the best feeling.

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'That people appreciate what we are trying to do, that is what keeps me going. And the appreciation of the congregation, the families I have played for, at weddings and funerals. I like people to be happy and enjoy what we do, and make something meaningful.

'I like music to be not too serious but happy, joyful, something people can enjoy.

'While I have my health and strength I will keep going, I hope I will be able to do it a little longer.'

A ceremony was held at the church in George's honour, specially attended by master organ maker and world expert Richard Bowers, who, along with the congregation, arranged for a specially engraved Royal School of Church Music Medal for long service to be given to him.

George, 78, from Wood Street, said he was 'overwhelmed' by the ceremony, which included a performance by the Broadland Bells bell-ringing band, the Hawkeswood Singers, Richard Bowers and George himself.

He has lived in Catfield all his life and went to North Walsham's Paston Grammar School. He has been married too Jannice for 42 years and has two adult offspring, son Jeremy and daughter Roasmund Hicks, who both grew up in Catfield.

He was an accountant with Sexty and Co in Norwich and North Walsham for 47 years.

Judith Gardiner, one of the concert organisers and member of the Broadland Bells bell-ringing group, said: 'George is very well respected in this area, I don't remember him ever missing a service.

'He is a fantastic organist, you wouldn't think he was that age if you heard him play, he plays with exuberance and plays all the organs in the area as well.'

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