A Musical Marathon!

For 24 long hours, from 4.00 pm on Sunday 18th August to 4.00 pm on Monday 19th August 2007,
Fr Neil Kelley played the organ (and sometimes the piano) at St Mary's in aid of church funds.

Supported by doorkeepers and refreshment sellers, as well as a steady stream of spectators and well-wishers,
he worked his way through a wide range of sacred and secular music, including request numbers, and,
at the time of writing, the money raised, taking into account Gift Aid to be reclaimed, is around £6,000.

This magnificent sum, to be divided equally between our two churches, is a fitting reward for the vicar's dedication, talent and stamina.
Your website manager, who spent some hours in the pew, including Monday breakfast, can bear witness to this marathon achievement,
and renders his thanks and congratulations, together with all those who supported  the event, to our Marathon Man!

Fr Neil, now recovered, and rashly offering to repeat the event, writes about the experience as seen from the organ console.


When you are planning to get through 1,440 minutes of music the end seems a very long way off! It all started well at 4pm on Sunday 18th August and it was encouraging to see when I had a quick (necessary) break around 9pm that there were some 20 people in church including three members of the local constabulary! (And they left a donation!)

But as midnight came and I felt as if I had done a day’s work, I released I wasn’t even halfway there!

When I performed Rossini’s Petite Messe Solonelle in Birmingham back in 1987 (with one Lesley Garrett as soprano soloist) little did I imagine I would be tackling a version for piano (made up by my good self) at 4am one Monday morning twenty years later in a Waterloo Church! But when it got to the wee small hours of that 24 hour sponsored event I was prepared to play anything just to keep myself awake. I went through Handel’s Messiah twice and those there in the 23rd hour accompanied my playing of just about every hymn in the hymn book.

As the last 30 minutes loomed people were sending encouraging texts (I had mastered the art of texting and playing at the same time by then) and the goodly number who were there for the final piece, the Widor Toccata, gave a most moving standing ovation. It was all very worth while.

I have to say that writing this in the knowledge that just over £6,000 was raised from the sponsored event in question is very gratifying. I am enormously grateful to those within the church and those who are “friends” of the church for all their support which of course came in many and varied forms. If you were there for breakfast or lunch you will know what I mean! People kindly kept me going with fruit, coffee, Red Bull, Pro Plus tablets and the promise of something more exciting to drink at the end!

When I was interviewed for BBC Radio Merseyside on the Sunday morning in question I said how fortunate we were in both our churches to have so many people who work so hard to make sure we keep the show on the road. We do have, and we are so lucky. I was just glad to be able to do my bit and would gladly do it again (so long as we make more money next time, not less!).

So once again, many, many thanks!

Neil Kelley: September 9th, 2007

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