A DEDICATED church organist recently staged his own musical marathon to help refurbish the unique century-old instrument.

Father-of-two Jim Walsingham of Kilwinning Old Parish Church is spearheading a campaign to raise nearly £250,000 to refurbish the historic pipe organ.

And a week past on Saturday and Sunday the Kilwinning native, who now lives in Ayr, staged a sponsored play-in which involved him playing the entire Church of Scotland Hymnary.

It took him nine hours.

Jim believes the fundraising campaign is vitally important and said: "The organ was built way back in 1897 and you can't get anything like it now. I would say it's simply irreplaceable. It's not so much just about money it's about raising awareness of the organ, which unlike some others is in its original condition. Inside it there's graffiti - in the form of names of people who pumped the organ. It really is quite a unique instrument."

The North Ayrshire-based peripatetic music teacher was delighted with how the venture went and added: "I played a lot on Saturday and then between the two services on Sunday and quite a few people came in to sing along, so it was good to have company.

"It's a lot of hymns to play and when I turned the page I didn't often know what was coming next but I knew the tunes of them before I looked at the music. The sponsored event helped raise £900 for the campaign and I'm delighted with that, as it means we raised about £100 an hour. Thanks to everyone who supported the fundraiser. My fingers were sore at the end but it was worthwhile.

"We will be planning more events to help raise funds for the appeal.

So far we must have raised £5,000 to £6,000 through various ventures. It's a five-year campaign."

A special birthday party was held for the organ last year. More than 200 people attended the event, which featured a choir, string quartet, a 'name that tune' feature and a stunning “organ shaped” cake. There was also a birthday party for Bach, in which the organ featured prominently.

The organ was specially built for the church in 1897 and cost £750, the equivalent of £100,000 today.

Support for the refurbishment campaign would be welcome.

Anyone who would like to help should email Jim Walsingham: idolikecats@aol.com.