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Alan Pilgrim - colchester Organ Society

Posted: Friday 8th November

Alan Pilgrim - colchester Organ Society

We have received this wonderfully written piece from Jennifer Kersey of the Colchester Organ Society celebrating over 50 years of commitment that their leading light Alan Pilgrim has given to the club. Alan must be among one of the longest standing committee members in the country - what an amazing achievment and a wonderful accolade!

Jennifer writes...

It is indeed fitting that, as I type this letter it is on the actual anniversary of the opening of Hodges and Johnson`s music shop in Colchester town -November 5th 1968-exactly 51 years ago-how surreal is that?

The (later) manager, Mr George Fulcher persuaded the owners of the business that organs would become a `good  seller`and that a local society should be formed, where likeminded people could get together once every two months and it would  subsequently be a `sound` investment if H+G had some input!

This was agreed and the first concert was planned and announced.

So, in January 1969 the first meeting was held in a room above the shop in St Botolph`s street and well known organist-George Blackmore was invited to play for the evening.

Like a snowball launched from the top of a hill-the society quickly gained momentum and grew in size-so a new venue was found-St Botolph`s church hall-many organists, famous at that time `on the circuit` were invited to play and a working committee was formed whereby George Fulcher would be president and Alan Pilgrim Public Relations Officer(P.R.O-he took this position for one year only and had intended to hand it over to another!)

Well,  so successful was the venture that it was decided to meet once a month and so it has been all that long time AND Alan Pilgrim, being involved right from the embryonic stages,  is now the longest serving officer of any similar society in the country-quite a considerable achievement –he was persuaded to stay on for a `little while longer!` than his initial term!

In the early days it was called the `Colchester Hammond organ society` as H+G had the franchise and the shop supplied many of the instruments used by the artistes-in later years as many new organ companies were formed-this was dropped and re-appeared as `the Colchester organ society`

Since then the Society has celebrated it’s:

*  21st: year with an all-day musical trade show ending with a grand buffet dance

* 25th year we held just a buffet dance

* 30th year we had two artistes, Tony Stace & Brett Wales for a special concert

* 35th year we convened a grand charity concert by The Longhawn Trio, three young brothers from  Yorkshire. The concert & raffle plus contributions from local businesses, raised a total of £1800 for the  Essex Air Ambulance.

*40th year with Tony Stace and Andrew Nix providing a five-hour marathon concert, with several breaks.

Those who know Alan well, acknowledge his extremely close rapport with all the artistes-allowing some harmless banter between them on concert evenings-many of them staying overnight before moving on to their next concert with him and his dear departed wife, Rita.

Several venues have been utilised to accommodate the concerts over the subsequent years.

With a little enthusiastic committee and the genourous help at each concert given by members, the society has `limped` onward, but now is the time to `call it a day`

Alan`s  long and full commitment to the society is a testimony to his way of conducting all matters in his life-he can retire gracefully knowing well that he was `instrumental` in providing top class organ entertainment for many over the 50 years-we wish him well.

Jennifer Kersey(committee member-Colchester organ society)

We are very sad that the club as it is is closing it's doors but we hear not all is lost in the area and a new group have formed to try and continue the great work that Alan and his team have done for many years. We naturally wish the new venture well whilst saying a huge thank you to all the exisitng committee members for their time and dedication.

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