A DEDICATED community stalwart who has played church organs in Bayton and Clows Top for more than 50 years has been honoured with a British Empire Medal.

Phillip Ward said he was left “amazed and humbled” when he discovered he had been named in the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s list this week.

The grandfather-of-six has been a familiar face amongst congregations at Clows Top Mission and St Bartholomew’s Churches as the dedicated organ player.

Mr Ward was asked to fill in the vacant role of organ player 56 years ago, having being taught how to play the piano by Henry Morris – whose grandson Tim is the current organist at St George’s Church.

He needed to take organ lessons – from borough organist Harold Evers – to hone his skills but has become a permanent fixture ever since.

Mr Ward, who worked in purchasing and transportation before retirement, said his family including wife Lynda, son Phillip and daughter Emma were proud of him.

He said: “I was amazed, humbled and very emotional when the letter came. It was totally out of the blue.

“It is something I have enjoyed doing, playing the organ and supporting the congregation and I’m still going strong.

“My family told me they are proud of me, although my wife says half of the award belongs to her as she has given me the time off to do it!”

The BEM award comes a month after the Bishop of Worcester presented him with a certificate in recognition of his dedicated service.

Christine Clarke, chair of Bayton Parish Council, said: “We wish to congratulate Phillip on receiving the BEM.

“For over 50 years, Phillip has been a stalwart of the communities of Clows Top and Bayton, serving them faithfully in a variety of ways. We wish him well in all his future endeavours as he continues to serve.”