Organ Memorial Concert survives another year

Val Hargraves standing at Josh Anderson's old work bench at the South Island Organ Company. Anderson will return to ...
TETSURO MITOMO/FAIRFAX NZ

Val Hargraves standing at Josh Anderson's old work bench at the South Island Organ Company. Anderson will return to Timaru next week for the seventh earthquake memorial concert.

Timaru's seventh annual Earthquake Memorial Organ Concert will go ahead, despite plans to lay the tradition to rest.

Concert organiser and South Island Organ Company (SIOC) owner Val Hargraves indicated last year the 2016 concert would likely be the last.

However, with former SIOC employee and Neil Stocker Memorial Scholarship recipient Josh Anderson returning to New Zealand from the United Kingdom the decision was made to hold the event.

Hargraves believed Anderson was returning to New Zealand for the official opening of the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial which would take place in Christchurch next week.

The first memorial organ concert was held at Sacred Heart Basilica in April 2011, a few months after the fatal earthquake which hit Christchurch on February 22, Hargraves said.

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It was dedicated to the two SIOC staff members who lost their lives during the quake, Neil Stocker and Scott Lucy, as well as volunteer Paul Dunlop. Anderson was injured during the quake.

"It was a very emotional event ... the Basilica was full."

However, in recent years the number of people attending the annual concerts had declined, Hargraves had many other events to organise, and she felt it was time to move on.

She believed 100 people attended the 2016 concert.

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"Smaller than it had been other years which was another indication ... and you sort of move on. But it doesn't mean you forget."

Portraits of the three men were hung up in the company's staff room and she was happy they were there.

Margaret Stocker, Neil's wife, instigated the scholarship, and so far Anderson was the only person to receive it. There were no applicants for it in 2016, Hargraves said.

The scholarship had enabled Anderson to leave Timaru in January 2016 to spend time in the United Kingdom, furthering his ability to play the organ, as well as his organ building education.

"It's been amazing for him ... life's pretty exciting for him. A lot of local people know [Anderson]. People will want to hear him play and it seemed to be a good vehicle to make it a memorial."

The EQ Memorial Organ Concert will be held on Saturday, February 25, at 5pm at Sacred Heart Basilica. Entry is by donation, and much of the donation will go towards the next scholarship.

 - Stuff

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