John Corran is a retired headteacher. He first enjoyed organ music as a chorister in Birkenhead a teenager, when he was given the opportunity to play the three manual Willis organ. But it wasn’t until he finished working that he was given the chance to play the organ at St Paul’s Irton.
Once he found out that the restoration of the organ had been looked into, but funding was preventing it from happening, he decided to offer to lead a fundraising campaign. Here’s his plea for your help:
I issue this plea to ask you to help us restore our village church organ.
St Paul’s Irton stands proudly overlooking Wasdale Valley and its iconic summits of Great Gable and Scafell.
Within it is an instrumental gem. The Grade II listed John Nicholson organ is the very heart of a church in a large rural community.
And that heart is failing. The truth is that, while there are many more important issues to worry about, every time we lose a little heart, we lose everything it supports and bit by bit, we will lose all we come to value.
Nicholson, a 19th century organ builder, was renowned for the quality of his work and the wonderful colour of sound that his instruments produced.
So much so that he built many instruments abroad including New Zealand and Australia.
St Paul’s is the only example of his work in Cumbria.
Built in 1874 under John Nicholson’s direction, the organ is almost 150 years old and is wearing out.
A full restoration would see the instrument preserved for future generations to: sing with, to play and learn on, listen to and enjoy.
In order to raise the £80,000 required to restore the instrument, I started the fundraising effort by cycling to all St Paul’s Churches in England, covering over 3,800 miles and visiting 253 during May and June 2022.
I am currently offering talks recounting my adventures on the ride to any groups that have made a request. I have also attended local events and craft fairs to raise funds.
Local events in the church are being organised to increase its community use.
So far, including various successful grant applications £33,000 of the £80,000 has been raised.
It is interesting to note, that the instrument built in 1874, was paid for by public subscription at a cost of £600. The latter in today’s money equates to £86,805.09!
If your are interested and would like to support the restoration of this magnificent instrumental gem there are a number of ways:
Just Giving – justgiving.com/crowdfunding/john-corran-irton-organ
Sponsor one of the 1,044 pipes – for information, email [email protected]
Order a bespoke card – for information, email [email protected]