Jill pulls out all the stops for Dave’s 50th birthday present

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Dave Warsop has been an organist for over 30 years and is resident player at St Paul’s Church in Norton Lees, providing music for weddings and christenings.

His dream was to play Sheffield City Hall’s renowned Henry Willis & Sons Organ, something that only a select few have done over the venue’s 81 years.

So what better surprise 50th birthday gift from wife Jill.

She arranged it secretly with City Hall staff after Dave had commented on his ambition when they went to see The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

The result was a visit with a few family members to perform a selection of his favourite pieces to an otherwise empty hall.

Dave, an electronics software engineer, said: “It was an honour and privilege to play such an esteemed instrument as the Father Willis Pipe Organ. Jill and I met through music and we share a love for fine instruments so when she told me she had contacted the City Hall who were willing to let me play for a an hour to fulfil a lifetime ambition, I was more than thrilled.”

Jill said: “Dave is used to playing an electronic organ so this is a dream come true. I really wanted to make his 50th birthday special and thanks to the City Hall he has received the best present he could – to play in the beautiful building with such a rare instrument.”

The couple, from Norton Lees, met at St Paul’s worship group where Dave plays the organ and Jill plays guitar. The select audience included St Paul’s vicar, Barbara Hicks.

The organ, which is above the stage, originally cost £12,650 and is the only remaining one of its kind, containing about 4,000 pipes.