ORGANIST Anne McKimmie has been part of the fabric of the parish church and congregation in Hopeman for more than 50 years.
So when a broken arm forced her to retire from her Sunday duties, the congregation paid their own tribute to Anne (89).
The joint congregations of Duffus, Spynie and Hopeman Church of Scotland marked her loyal service by presenting her with an engraved vase. She was also in charge of the floral arrangement list for the church for 23 years.
And Anne, who still attends services every Sunday, has vowed to step in if they need an organist in the future.
“If there is an emergency I could step in, because I keep my fingers well exercised,” she said.
Anne started playing regularly at Hopeman Kirk in 1959, although her first taste of the organ came at the age of 15, when she started playing at Hopeman Baptist Church.
She shared the duties of organist there for many years, only taking a break when she was called up during the war. When her mother died, Anne also had to give up playing for a while, due to other responsibilities.
But in 1959 she started playing at the parish church, and she has been there ever since.
She started on a pipe organ, which had been acquired second hand from a bombed-out church in the south.
In recent years the church has had a Clavinova organ, but Anne’s favourite was a Hammond.
She always enjoyed her place in the organ pit, but because it was largely hidden from the congregation, she had to come up with innovative ways to keep track of the singing.
Anne, who is hard of hearing, had a collection of pennies which she would move to keep track of verses when she couldn’t hear the congregation singing.
There was also a dedicated team of ‘engineers’ at a light switch at the back, who would operate a light in the pit to let her know when to start the next hymn.
Over the years, Anne has been a stalwart at church services and become a popular figure among different generations of the congregation.
“I didn’t miss many Sundays. I never went away much at weekends. Playing the organ was my therapy,” she added.
Anne used to work in her father, William Stuart’s, baker’s shop in Harbour Street, and when he died she converted it to a fruit shop, which she ran for many years.
Two days after she broke her arm, Anne lost her sister Jess, then Hopeman’s oldest resident, at the age of 102.
The church’s new organist is Kirsty MacLean, an S4 pupil at Elgin Academy.
“It was a lovely surprise getting the engraved vase, and I got lots of cards from the Sunday School children, which was nice,” added Anne.
The Rev Jenny Adams said that Anne thoroughly deserved the recognition after such long and faithful service.
“She is part of the fabric of the church and of Hopeman. It has been a huge commitment over the years, and everybody was pleased to be able to say a proper ‘thank you’ to her,” said Mrs Adams.
“She never wants a fuss, but she deserves it.”