Rector to pull out all stops by playing organ for 12 hours in hall fundraiser
A Church of Ireland rector is to play the organ non-stop for 12 hours to raise funds to replace a parish hall destroyed in the devastating floods that hit the north west last summer.
Eglinton was one of the areas worst affected by the rain that fell in August 2017, with St Canice's Church in the heart of the village extensively damaged.
Its minister, Rev Canon Paul Hoey, is no stranger to innovation to engage his congregation or to embarking on novel fundraising schemes for worthy causes.
And next month his latest endeavour will involve the church's new organ, which was purchased to replace the one destroyed in the deluge.
From 9am to 9pm on Saturday, September 22, Rev Hoey will be at the keyboard blasting out hymns and any other requested pieces of music to help his parishioners raise enough money for the new hall.
And he is encouraging worshippers from other denominations to get involved in the fundraising endeavour.
Rev Hoey said: "Our old parish hall was very badly damaged in the flooding and we've been without a hall for almost a year now.
"We have had help from the other churches in the area as well as the local community centre and village primary school.
"We are so grateful to everyone who has helped us in the interim, they have been incredibly generous, but there's no substitute for having your own parish hall.
"We are eager to have a new one up and running as soon as possible - and clearly that requires a lot of money."
Rev Hoey said the cost of a new hall is expected to run to six figures, and he hopes his marathon organ-playing exploits can make a sizeable dent in that bill.
"I know playing the organ for these 12 hours won't bring in enough to meet the costs of a new hall but any money raised will be put to good use," he added.
"I hope it will give people the chance to enjoy some sacred music at the same time.
"We don't have a final figure of the build yet, but we know we are looking at a six-figure sum.
"Parishioners have been given sponsor forms and all contributions will be received gratefully and will be added to the pot from our previous fundraising events."
For Rev Hoey, the challenge of a 12-hour stint at the organ comes with a serious side.
"While I'm looking forward to the challenge immensely, there's a serious purpose behind it because we lost so much in the flood," he explained.
"The organ I will be playing is making an impressive sound and giving a fine lead to the worship in St Canice's, but it is a replacement for one that was destroyed in last year's flood.
"I'm ready to play for the entire 12 hours myself, but I have allowed five minutes off every hour for comfort breaks and I have someone else who will take over, but other than that it will be me.
"I am hoping enough people from the village and beyond - and from all denominations - will come in during the day asking for a request with a donation which will also keep me occupied and give me some company.
"The last hour of the event will take the form of community hymn singing, with lots of favourites being sung and played."
Some 63% of the average August rainfall came within an eight-to-nine-hour period last year.
The north west was the worst affected area, as well as parts of Co Tyrone.
Firefighters rescued 93 people who were trapped by floodwater in their cars or homes.