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Michael Grave, Director of Music at St Mary the Virgin, Parish Church, Whickham in the Diocese of Durham, is celebrating 40 years as Organist at the same church.

Michael, aged 68, who also serves on the Royal School of Church Music’s Durham Area Committee, said: “I enjoy playing the organ. I enjoy what I do for the people of the church and playing the organ is the icing on the cake.

“I see it as part of ministry and the music affects people when they worship. I feel I have achieved something if they leave the church with a buzz about the music.

“I do feel that I am still learning. I think I know about ten per cent of what there is to know about playing the organ. I am always looking to improve.

“The church has been good to me and this is my way of giving something back.”

Michael was born in Halifax, West Yorkshire in 1946 where he was introduced to church music from the age of seven as a choirboy.

He studied Chemical Engineering at Leeds University and subsequently became a Chartered Chemical and Nuclear Engineer also serving as Vice President of the British Nuclear Energy Society, a Director of the Nuclear Institute and the European Nuclear Society.

He moved to Gateshead in 1973 to work for Clarke Chapman (now Doosan Babcock); for most of his career in the field of Nuclear Decommissioning. He has headed the music at Whickham since March 1975.

Michael has been a Past President of the Newcastle and District Society of Organists and he jointly led the organisation of the Great North Organ Day in 2014.

He was a part-time lay clerk in St Nicholas Cathedral Choir for about 25 years. He and his Whickham choir have made a number of appearances on radio and TV, the highlight being the broadcast of the Morning Service on BBC Radio 4 during the Gateshead Garden Festival.

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