A CHURCH organist from Bewdley has been congratulated for playing for the community for 50 years.

Neil Sollom was presented with an award by the Rev Mark Wakelin, president of the Methodist Conference, and the Rev Linda Catlow, minister of Bewdley Methodist Church.

Neil was born in Wribbenhall where he was taught to play the piano and organ by Norman Watkins.

He was allowed to use the organ at All Saints Church to practice and began playing for services at the Methodist Church, in High Street, as a 13-year-old.

He was volunteered by his mother Nancy, a church member, for what he was told would be a temporary period of a few months.

Neil’s other great passion has been rugby. He played for Kidderminster Carolians for many years and is a past president of the club.

This summer, he will be in Australia watching the British Lions rugby tour and will be unable to play at church services for a couple of months.

At Bewdley Methodist church, music is provided by a traditional pipe organ, which is single-manual with pedals, and services feature a mix of traditional hymns and modern worship songs.

Neil said: “When I started playing the organ for services I was part of a team of three, which was an ideal way to gain experience without the pressure of playing weekly.

“There are two of us now so there’s a vacancy for at least one organist or aspiring pianist to join us, either to cover while I’m away or on a longer-term basis.”

If anyone is interested, call Neil on 0778 065 0491 or email neilsollom@onetel.com