Organist celebrates half a century of making music in Newcastle

First published on: 2nd November 2023

An organist has been recognised by his church community after clocking up 50 years of dedicated service.

Aidan Evans has been the man behind the keys at St Matthew’s Church, Elswick, Newcastle, since the summer of 1973.

The 71-year-old was the subject of a special presentation during a heritage service in September, which was attended by family and friends.

“It was a very special day,” said Aidan. “The people at St Matthew’s have always been very warm-hearted to me and it was lovely that they wanted to show their appreciation this way. Other organists came along to support me and it added to the occasion.”

Aidan, who is originally from Newcastle’s West End, was a student at Durham University when he first started playing the organ at St Matthew’s during a time when the Revd Harvey Walker was vicar. He went on to become the full-time replacement for the late Andrew Worton-Stewart, who left to embark on a musical career in America.

There was a historic change at St Matthew’s four years later, when in 1977 the church’s original pipe organ had reached the end of it’s natural life and a decision was taken to replace it.

Aidan explained: “We bought a second-hand organ, dating back to 1874, from a church in Cheshire, which happened to be collapsing into a salt mine! The organ is tracker action - almost entirely mechanical and can be maintained. It is working well today having undergone some recent repair work.”

Some of the pipes from the original organ at St Matthew’s were retained, much to Aidan’s delight.

He explained: “My grandparents were married at St Matthew’s back in 1911, so I like to think I’m sounding the same pipes - some of them at least - which were played on their wedding day.”

Only three vicars have been stationed at the church during Aidan’s half century of service there – with Father Walker followed by Father Ian Faulkner and the current incumbent, Father Richard Deadman.

He added: “We have traditional services where music is important. St Matthew’s has a good combination of Anglo-Catholic liturgy and an outreach to the people of Elswick.

“It is a parish church working for this community and that has never changed. It provides stability in this part of Newcastle and is very inclusive.”

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