Organist Bill calls it a day

Joseph Bulmer

Church musician has pulled out the stops for 73 years

A BARNSTAPLE man has been pulling out all the stops to bring music to his local churches for the past 73 years.

But having celebrated his 90th birthday, Bill Frayne will be calling time on his services at the end of this week.

For the past nine years Bill has been travelling from his home in Barnstaple to be one of two organists at Lavington United Reformed Church in Bideford, sharing with David Wardle from Woolsery.

This Sunday he will do so for the last time.

“But if you are ever stuck, you can give me call,” he has assured the minister, the Rev Tom Bayliss.

Mr Bayliss said: “We shall miss Bill. He plays sensitively and very appropriately. As a tribute to him, on his last Sunday at the organ he will be allowed to choose the hymns for the morning service.”

Bill said he has been fascinated by organ music since a small boy, when attending the former Barnstaple Baptist Church and listening as the organist played behind a curtain, just an arm appearing from time to time.

As a teenager he trained under the organist of the former St Mary’s Church in Barnstaple, before first playing in church himself at the age of 17 at the old Bideford Baptist Church.

Over the years Bill went on to play at Barnstaple Baptist Church and Newport Methodist Church, before moving away to work for 20 years for Vauxhall Motors and live in the Watford area. Within weeks of arrival he saw an advertisement by North Watford Methodist Church and took over as organist there.

After retiring back to North Devon, Bill has played at the former United Reformed Church and subsequently Christ Church in Barnstaple before moving to Lavington.

Bill has also been fascinated by theatre organs and is a member of the Cinema Organ Society. During a period in the RAF he had an opportunity to play huge Wurlitzers in Buffalo, New York State.