Remarkable May's 85 years of playing the organ
3:51pm Mon Oct 03, 2016
May Shooter.
May Shooter.
A special service will be held to celebrate the achievements of a church organist who has been playing for more than eight decades.
Mrs May Shooter, 95, of Balderton, started playing the organ when she was ten after being encouraged to do so by her aunt Elizabeth Johnson, a Sunday school teacher at the Primitive Methodist Chapel on Pinfold Lane, Balderton.

She had lessons, discovered she had a good ear for music and a natural talent, and so started to play at church services in the village.

She continued until she volunteered for the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force during the second world war and found herself stationed at Bridlington and Whitley Bay.

When she returned home she returned to her church, which later merged to become Balderton Methodist Church on Main Street, and became one of the team of Sunday organists.

Over the years she has also played for services at Claypole, Long Bennington, Barnby, Coddington, Brough, Sutton-on-Trent, Elston, Collingham, Muskham and at Sunday services at Newark Hospital for 21 years.

“I have always enjoyed playing,” she said. “It gives me great joy. I feel I have been given a gift from God and I am happy to use it.”

Mrs Shooter enjoys playing traditional hymns — her favourites are Oh Perfect Love and Fill My Life Oh God — but she is also happy to play more modern ones.

“I am fortunate that I can sight read music,” she said.

'Probably the most experienced organist in the world'

One hymn she is not so fond of is All Things Bright and Beautiful. She said she had often been known to play an extra verse by mistake when the congregation had stopped singing.

“It’s not always easy to tell when the hymn has finished,” she said.

Methodist minister the Rev Mark Roberts said Mrs Shooter had been a key part of Sunday worship for many years.

“She is retiring as one of our Sunday morning organists at Balderton Methodist Church and we felt it was right to mark the occasion with a special event to celebrate 85 years’ of service in the church,” he said.

A poster produced to promote the service describes her as: “Probably the most experienced organist in the world.”

Mr Roberts said she was a well-loved character in the church and community and he had valued her support and encouragement during his time as minister.

“Although we will not be seeing her play on a Sunday morning I hope she will have opportunities to play for many years to come,” he said.

Anyone can attend the service for Mrs Shooter, which will be held at Balderton Methodist Church at 4pm a week on Sunday.

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