Music was in the air at the Westmere Presbyterian Memorial Church on Sunday when parishioners got the first chance to hear a newly installed organ played for the first time.

The organ installation was the next step in a major seismic upgrade for the church on SH3 and on hand was the person who refurbished the instrument as well as the person who secured the organ for the church.

Donald Trott, a former Whanganui man and driving force behind the annual Wanganui opera school, was instrumental in getting the Reverend Bruce Thompson of Auckland to donate the organ to the church. Mr Thompson had saved the instrument after it had been removed from the Seaman's Mission in Wellington some years ago.

Since then it had been stored in the loft of an Auckland church until the day when a new home could be found for it.


Church spokesman David Bennett said the organ was believed to be about 140 years old, had been electrified and was ideally suited to the Westmere church.

"It will be played at some church services, but we also hope that the church and organ will become a venue for Christian musical occasions and concerts," he said.

Local organ builder Garth Stevenson restored the instrument and Mr Bennett said the church was very grateful for the time he put in to get the organ back to full working order.

"Garth has spent hundreds of hours both refurbishing the internals of the instrument, and more recently installing it in the church building," he said.

Meanwhile contractors were at the church yesterday, raising up the hall next door so that its floor level is the same as the church. Mr Bennett said this will save the need for more steps and ramps when the new entranceway is completed. "We don't have the funds or approval for the entranceway but the design is complete and we're getting quotes ready to get funding."