CHURCH organist Betty Scroggy has stepped down from her role at St. Mary’s Ardclinis Parish Church in Carnlough after 54 years.
Mrs Scroggy’s half-century contribution to the Largy Road parish was officially marked recently by a retirement presentation by church wardens William Wright and Kate Magill on behalf of the congregation.
Betty, who has played the piano since she was seven years old, recalled that she had been asked to take over the organ from Miss Isobel McConachy, in August 1958, when she was a teenager.
Previously, she had played the organ in church for the Sunday School.
“I more or less picked it up myself. The organ is so different from the piano.
“I was nervous because I was so young but I received a lot of help from Mrs Mary Barr and Mrs Bannon, the rector’s wife. They were both great help over the years.”
Among the pieces she had to learn were the many chants, some of which have as many as 10 verses as well as numerous hymns.
However, she said that usually she was allowed to make her own hymn selection, adding that her favourite is “Love Divine”.
“I thoroughly enjoyed playing the church organ. I feel that if you have a gift, then you are better to use it.”
Commenting on the history of the organ at 173-year-old church, Betty said that the instrument was restored in 1884, and again, in 1997.
It has also been played by visiting organists during a flower festival in 2006 and on special occasions, for church dignitaries.
“It is in great order. It is a beautiful instrument. We are very fortunate to have such an organ”, she said.
Betty, whose position has been filled by Mrs Ann Tyler, noted that CDs have replaced organ music in some churches.
“I would not like to see that”, she joked.
She indicated that she now plans to relax on Sundays joining her son Ian and brother Hugh Leitch singing in the choir.
Commenting on Mrs Scroggy’s retirement, Rev. Helen MacArthur, minister of St Mary’s, expressed thanks to Betty for her longterm support.
“She has given us a wonderful commitment over the past 54 years. We appreciate it very much. It shows how much the church means to her. It must have been a very difficult decision to retire as organist.
“We look forward to her continued participation in the choir.”