AN ANNUAL event saw a very special gathering in Tenbury at the weekend.

The Saint Michael’s College Society, which numbers more than 200 old boys and friends, came together for the Patronal Festival.

Each year they get together for a light lunch in the village hall where they then hold their annual general meeting before attending evensong.

The highlight is always the festival evensong, said vice chair of St Michael's PCC Tony Penn.

Ludlow Advertiser: The Hereford Church Singers preparing for evensong. Picture: Tony PennThe Hereford Church Singers preparing for evensong. Picture: Tony Penn (Image: Tony Penn)

The Hereford Church Singers were directed by John Eden and accompanied by Roger Judd, organist emeritus of St Michaels, and their choir master. The officiating priest was the Reverend Lawrence Gittings, priest-in-charge of the local ministry group, who also later spoke during the society dinner at the Fountain Inn. The service ends with a ceremony at the grave of founder Sir Arthur Gore Ouseley, where a wreath was laid.

This year there was a further celebratory ceremony as the congregation returned to the church. An appeal had been made to the society for funds to help the modernisation works go ahead, including the provision of new internal blowers for the Father Willis organ. These replaced the old external units which blew in cold air, defeating all efforts to heat the building.

The society rose to the occasion magnificently in just a few months and the new blower installation was completed in November last year, Mr Penn said. Consequently, it was thought appropriate to unveil a small brass plaque at the end of the service acknowledging their generosity. Roger Judd then gave a short organ recital demonstrating the efficiency of the organ’s “new lungs”.

The group also heard from Mr Penn about the work taking place following the generosity of the David and Christine Lloyd-Jones Foundation.

However, a dark cloud has appeared on the horizon, Mr Penn said, with dry rot found in the timber vaulting above the chancel, which has spread to the east transept housing the organ.

"Like most churches, St Michaels is not in a strong position financially to tackle what could be a very costly problem," Mr Penn said. 

"A Fighting Fungus Fund has been launched, and it is hoped that people will show their generosity and support in maintaining this perfect example of Victorian architecture, grade II* listed, and its rich heritage associated with the choir school at the former college."