Betty received a confirmed grant of £325,725 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the organ restoration project, announced on the 29th September 2014. The project aims to restore the grade 2* listed Victorian organ and celebrate this valuable piece of heritage through musical projects and community events. The organ will be taken away to the workshop in February and be reinstalled in June, ready for a full launch and celebratory events in the Autumn. In the mean time, as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded project an Animateur has been contracted to organise a portfolio of events with schools and the local community, a number of lectures on music, organs, heritage and faith are being organised and the organ builders, pipe art restorers and volunteers are all being engaged to do their bit in the project to restore Betty to her former grandeur.
The project will carry out essential repairs and conservation work, restoring both the sound and the visual appearance of the organ. Two apprentices will be employed throughout the work. An education programme is also planned for local schools, as well as exhibitions, lectures, conferences and publications prepared by experts but with significant volunteer contributions. Following the restoration a series of recitals will follow, including an opening recital by an internationally recognised organist playing a newly commissioned concerto for organ, a children’s musical, community concerts, and a conceptual art event featuring a soloist from the Royal Ballet.
St John’s is a focal point for the local community, used by many community groups and supporting many young musicians. The organ is an1865 William Hill cathedral-sized instrument that is an important part of Britain’s musical inheritance, but has been in decline for many years and requires an immediate overhaul. This restoration in its 150th year presents a wonderful opportunity to save this Victorian instrument and celebrate the history, music and culture of West London.
Jean Paul Floru, a Westminster councillor, said: “I’m delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given this grant. St John’s is a very important community hub in Westminster and the organ is a centrepiece of the musical and cultural heritage of the area. I look forward to seeing the newly restored organ and the community projects that are held as a result of the work.”
Sue Bowers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund London, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this truly community based project to save this historic church organ. The restoration and preservation of the instrument and its history will ensure that the rich musical traditions of St John’s will continue to flourish for years to come.”
About the Heritage Lottery Fund