Organist marks 70 years

After more than 3,000 services, you would think veteran chapel organist Mollie Rollins would want to take it easy.

But after 70 years of playing holy music, the organist at Tydd St Giles Methodist Chapel has no plans to stop yet.

Not even a gradual loss of vision made Mollie want to call it a day, with an operation to remove cataracts from her eyes last year giving the 83-year-old a new lease of life on the keys.

Now members of the congregation have recognised her seven decades of service with a special presentation during the chapel’s 129th anniversary service last Sunday.

She was presented with a framed certificate by the Rev Barry Armson and letters of congratulation were read from Rev Graham Thompson, chairman of the East Anglian District of the Methodist Church, and Rev David Ely, superintendent of the Methodist Fens Circuit.

Penny Waldock also read a poem she wrote specially for the occasion and Mollie was also presented with flowers and a gift voucher from members of the chapel.

Mollie’s son David, daughter Susan Bradshaw and three of her grandchildren were also invited to the service as a surprise.

Mollie said: “I was playing the organ and I turned around and saw them there. It was a really big surprise, I didn’t know they were going to do anything for me.”

Mollie, who lives with husband George in Tydd St Giles Fen, started learning music while attending the Colvile School in Newton – spending her dinner hour being taught by teacher Evelyn Powers.

She left school at 14 and started lessons with Madeline Watson, of North Brink, Wisbech; taking exams in playing and theory up to Grade Eight.

Mollie started playing the organ at Tydd St Giles Fen Methodist Church in 1944, during the Second World War, but when the chapel closed in 1989 she began playing at Tydd St Giles Methodist Chapel.

In her 70 years, she has played at virtually every Sunday service, alongside bringing up her children and working on the land at her father’s farm.

She said: “It is a big achievement so I’m very proud, and I’ve enjoyed every minute.

“I have been fortunate to have good health. I had trouble with my eyes and began to lose my confidence playing, but I had cataracts removed last year and it’s like I’ve started again. I hope to be able to continue for as long as I can.”