Barnet Parish Church held a day-long series of events for the official launch of a fund-raising appeal for urgent repairs to its much admired 140-year-old church organ -- said to be the "beating heart" of the High Barnet community.


Restoring the organ, which was installed in 1884 by the famous 19th century organ builders William Hill and Son is likely to cost £165,000.

Councillor Nagus Narenthira, Mayor of Barnet, who cut a ribbon to launch the appeal, said she was delighted to have been asked to give her support towards ensuring that the organ is fully functioning once again.

“We need to restore the parish church organ because we must preserve it for use by future generations.”

She was joined at the ceremony by a line-up of local dignitaries (from left to right) High Barnet Councillor Emma Whysall; Mike Noronha, curator, Barnet Museum; Ken Narenthira, Mayor’s escort; Martin Russell, Deputy Lieutenant, and patron of Barnet Museum; and the team vicar, Father Sam Rossiter-Peters.

Barnet Council has made a grant of £83,000 towards the cost of the work and Father Sam said the total raised was so far £85,700, well over half the amount that was needed.

He stressed the importance of the organ to the work of St John the Baptist Church because it was vital to their role in reaching out to the community.

Once completed the church hopes to extend its programme of musical education with pupils at local schools and host a wider range of concerts and musical events.

Councillor Emma Whysall (far right) said she had been so pleased to help the parish church secure the £83,000 grant from Barnet Council’s community infrastructure levy.

“St John’s does so much within the community – spiritually, educationally, and musically – and the other councillors and council officials realised that restoring the church organ was a great project to get behind and support.”

St John’s associate organist Jonathan Gregory – see above – was congratulated by Father Sam for agreeing to play during the launch day events, which included the opening of the church tower.

“Jonathan makes a struggling church organ sound as if it is not struggling – for which we are really indebted,” said Father Sam.

Other guests joined the official line-up for the launch including Neil Enright, head of Queen Elizabeth’s School, which is working with the church to develop an organ scholarship with the assistance of music teacher Jas Hutchinson-Bazely (above, first left). Also joining the line-up was St John’s head chorister David Hay (second left).