Swansong for Ben Rhydding organist Jim

Wharfedale Observer: Jim Bray plays the Ilkley Baptist Church organ for the final time after retiring, aged 90 Jim Bray plays the Ilkley Baptist Church organ for the final time after retiring, aged 90

Organist Jim Bray has retired after bringing music to an Ilkley church for no less than 46 years.

The 90-year-old, from Ben Rhydding, has played the organ at every Sunday morning and evening service at Ilkley Baptist Church, in Kings Road, during that period. He also tinkled the ivories at many funerals and weddings.

Mr Bray said: “The minister who was here in 1966 knew I played the organ and asked me to stand in for someone, and I’m still here 46 years on. I’ve always liked music, but I prefer the classical type.”

A former church deacon and Ilkley Choral Society member, Mr Bray inherited his father’s passion for music and was the only one of his two siblings to carry on playing the piano after being taught by him.

Mr Bray’s own daughter Ruth and son John are also continuing the musical tradition.

Mr Bray, who suffered a heart attack earlier this year, will now enjoy retirement with his wife Grace, also 90. He added: “It is nice not to have to sort the music out every week.”

Church secretary, Graham Sunderland, said: ”Jim will be greatly missed – he and his wife Grace are a wonderful couple.”

The church is now looking for a replacement organist. Contact Mr Sunderland on (01943) 600337 for details.

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