Essex: Long-serving organ player retires after 71 years

AN ORGANIST who has played at Littlebury Church for 71 years played at his last service on Sunday.

Denis Wright was only 14 when, in 1940, the vicar at Holy Trinity Church asked him to play for the congregation.

The previous organist had been called up to fight in the second world war and Denis, a choirboy at the church since 1934, had been learning the piano.

He vividly remembers his first service on June 18, 1940. Although Sunday’s service was inevitably emotional, the 85-year-old says he will not regret his decision.

“I don’t regret it – now is the right time to stand aside,” he told the Reporter. “I’ve done my bit.”

He added: “It was only a small service [on Sunday] and everyone enjoyed it.”

Mr Wright’s time as an organist in Littlebury has been far from uneventful.

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While working on the production line for an adhesive company in Duxford in 1974, he was caught in an explosion and damaged his right hand.

He was off work for six months and lost about 50 per cent use of his hand.

“I was worried that I might never play the organ again,” he said, before adding that playing the organ helped his hand recover much of its mobility.

However, he still suffers from the injury and says it is now impossible for him to fully extend his little finger, making his organ playing more difficult.

Mr Wright was also awarded an MBE in 1995 to honour his extensive services to the community. He was on the parish council for 48 years, including 18 as chairman, as well as serving on various other committees and organisations.

When speaking of his long service to the community, he stresses that “I couldn’t have done it without the help of my wife Mary”.

The couple celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary last year.

Although formally retired from the role, he has not ruled out lending a hand as an organist for the church when needed.