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The Royal College of Organists is taking a practical interest in the restoration campaign of our historic Father Willis organ.

Tom Bell, Northern Director of the Royal College of Organists (RCO), made a special visit to The Blue Coat School to see our historic organ and test its playing abilities.

He was also very keen to explore how the RCO can work on community out-reach events as part of the Blue Coat: For All project to restore the Willis organ, which is being aided by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

“Blue Coat’s Willis organ is a very special, rare instrument, with a fantastically rich, fulsome sound, but after 144 years of use, it clearly now needs major restoration to remain operational,” he said.

“Working with Blue Coat School is also a wonderful chance to help the RCO’s goal of promoting organ music to the community and young people. We desperately need more organ players and especially want to attract young women to learn to play.”

Tom Bell’s visit followed a meeting in London with Catherine Ennis, former RCO President, Peter Elson, Blue Coat Development Officer and Professor Peter Toyne, who was founding Vice Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University and is now co-chair of Young Organ Scholars’ Trust and a Blue Coat Ambassador.

Ms Ennis, Director of Music at St Lawrence Jewry Church, City of London, is passionate about teaching women to play the organ, in what is a male-dominated music sector. As a co-educational school with a terrific music culture, Blue Coat is an ideal place in which to nurture this.

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