A retired taxman yesterday completed his quest of playing every cathedral organ in Britain – despite never having had a proper lesson.
John Richards, 75, set a record when he played the 94th instrument following an incredible musical journey which has taken him 20 years.
He played ‘Auld Lang Syne’ at Inverness Cathedral after having already performed on every organ across England and Wales.
The amateur organist learned to play the piano as a child but has never had a formal organ lesson in his life.
He was encouraged to take his piano skills to church by his father and would earn his pocket money by performing for worshippers in the local church.
His passion came to a brief end after his wife Barbara unexpectedly died following a brain haemorrage in 1992.
Devastated by the sudden loss, John lost his motivation and was unable to play for years.
But after remarrying, his new wife Lyn encouraged him to to keep playing and together they have toured the country and visited every single cathedral.
After completing the mammoth task yesterday, John said: “It’s been a commitment to a day but we’ve managed to do it.
“Here I am, 75 years of age and I’ve played all cathedral organs in Britain. I’m not aware of anyone else who has attempted to do this.
“It’s been a tremendous journey.
“I can’t believe it in a way that something which did not start as a quest has ended as one.
“So many people have been concerned with this.
“But without Lyn none of this would have been possible.
“It’s been a special and emotional day, but I won’t stop playing.”
John, who was born in Aberdare, Wales, has toured the country with a repertoire of about 40 tunes, including hymns, Scottish and Welsh tunes and some by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
He said his favourite organ is that at at St. Paul’s Cathedral which has five keyboard and “basically plays itself”.
John has also “tremendously” enjoyed playing at St Machar’s Cathedral in Aberdeen, York Minster, Truro and at his local cathedral in Llandaff, Cardiff.
He had tea with fellow organist and former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath in 1999 after trying out the organ Mr Heath had played at Salisbury Cathedral.
The incredible undertaking has cost him more than £12,000 over the years which the couple spent on travel, accommodation and food.