AFTER 70 years as a church organist, a great-grandmother from Holmes Chapel has stepped off the pedals and hung up the hymn sheets.

Christine Jones, 83, got her first taste of playing the organ on the Sunday after D-Day in June 1944 – the 13-year-old pianist was asked to step in last minute after the organist at her church in Keyingham, Hull, fell ill.

She fell in love with the instrument and has played the organ wherever she lived since that fateful day – that is until earlier this month.

“It was coming up to 70 years and I thought, ‘maybe this is a good time to retire’,” she said.

The Bessancourt resident, who has been church organist at St Luke’s Church in Holmes Chapel for the past 24 years, was joined by past pupils, friends, and parishioners at a special celebratory send-off on June 7.

The special guests who performed on the night were all part of Christine’s musical journey over the years– the Crewe Male Voice Choir, baritone Samuel Jackson, trumpeter Laurel Newnes, and world-renowned soprano Denise Leigh.

Christine, who began teaching music as a profession in 1951, said: “It was such a smashing night. I expected I would be emotional but I wasn’t. The adrenaline kept me going.”

As well as dedicating her time to playing for the church, Christine has also used her musical talents to raise money for charities close to her heart.

Over the past few years she has completed three solo organ marathons in Goostrey and Holmes Chapel – which involved playing the organ for an incredible 14 hours non-stop and 1001 hymns back-to-back.

She was 81 years old when she completed her most recent marathon.

“It was just something that I wanted to do, it’s no hardship and does some good,” she said.

“Music is for sharing. God put it there, I got given the gift of music. And wow, haven’t I been lucky.”