A STALWART organist is celebrating after serving his church for four decades.

Mark King, 58, has been choirmaster and organist at St Peter’s Church in Sible Hedingham for 40 years and he has also dedicated his time to St Nicholas’ Church in Castle Hedingham.

Mark got his first big break at the keyboard at the age of just 13 when the organist at St Peter’s Church fell ill before a wedding ceremony.

He performed the bridal march without any music and played out the ceremony after getting some sheet music.

The dedicated musician plays at all the services in both St Peter’s and St Nicholas’ churches on Sundays and for funerals, baptisms and weddings.

He and the choir also support special services at Easter and Christmas, performing choral pieces as well as hymns.

As well as working at the church, Mark spends most of his time teaching music at his home in Sible Hedingham.

A celebration of Mark’s anniversary took place at St Peter’s Church and saw friends, family and staff turn up in a socially-distanced gathering.

Mark said: “It was lovely. I had a big celebration after my 25 year milestone.

“Obviously because of the Covid lockdown not as many people could turn up, but I really enjoyed it.

“It was wonderful and there was a reasonable amount of people.”

Mark has been an ever present fixture of the St Peter’s Church since he was born.

Both dad Pat and mum Rowena, were involved with the church, serving as a member of the choir and the church warden respectively.

Rowena was the church’s first female warden and Mark’s brother, David, also sang for the choir.

Mark has attended the church since he was a baby and used to sit in the congregation while his dad and brother performed.

Mark joined St Peter’s Church choir when he was five years old and grew up with a love of music and church worship - becoming fascinated with the organ and pursuing it as soon as he reached his Grade five in piano.

Mark added: “I’m a music teacher by profession but I’ve always had a love for the Anglican church.

“The organ fascinated me from an early age. I have a love of music and a love of churches and church worship so it’s the perfect job for me really.

“I like all church music but my leaning is toward Johann Sebastian Bach.

“I like Preludes and Fugues because, while it is difficult to learn, it really brings the organ alive.

“To be honest, I’ll keep going until I drop basically.

“My heart is in St Peter’s. I get a buzz off of playing and whilst I can, I will go on as long as I can.”

The Rev Liz Paxton said: “St Peter’s Church has been blessed with the dedicated service of a gifted musician for the last 40 years.

“We are blessed to have him and look forward to his continued musical ministry for many years to come.”