We were delighted to welcome accomplished organist Lady Anne Dodd, widow of comedian Sir Ken Dodd, to meet our first four Blue Coat School Organ Scholars Year 11 students George Ke and Olivia Stone, Alexandra Somova, of Year 10 and Charles Fisher of Year 9.
This was a highly enjoyable and memorable event as during her visit, she was guest of honour at a ceremony when Sir Andrew Parmley, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Organists, presented its Accreditation to the Headteacher Ms Yates for the new Blue Coat School Organ Scholarship.
This is a unique honour for a state school and one achieved in the very short time of just two years. Our thanks to the team who helped to make this happen, including three Old Blues: organ tutors Lee Ward and Daniel Greenway, supervisor Dr Chris McElroy; and Blue Coat Director of Music Simon Emery.
After a welcome by the Head, Blue Coat For All project manager Peter Elson introduced the event to 30 special guests, aided by our outstanding young Old Blue organist Daniel Greenway, 19, who made his final public appearance performing at school before becoming Oxford University Keble College Organ Scholar.
Daniel delighted Lady Anne with his specially arranged medley of Ken Dodd’s famous songs such as Happiness and Love is Like a Violin, played on the Chapel Walker organ. Olivia and George also played pieces and their photographs appeared in The Daily Telegraph with Lady Anne and Ken’s tickling sticks!
Silenced by the school closure during the pandemic, this was an ideal occasion to show off our restored historic Father Willis organ in Shirley Hall, which was generously paid for by the Heritage Fund. The organ was restored by its builder Henry Willis & Sons, whose managing director David Wyld was also present.
Other guests included Prof Peter Toyne, founder Vice Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University, who has been vitally important in helping to raise money to support the Blue Coat Organ Scholarship, which is entirely funded by outside sources. Two of our key organ scholarship sponsors, Liverpool businessman Keith Simpson and Dr Jude Brereton, of York, representing the Brereton Memorial Fund, also attended.
If you would like to find out more about Blue Coat For All, which was funded by the Heritage Fund, please click here.
Photo credit: Jason Roberts