Dorothy Wells Organ Foundation inaugurated with Jane Watts recital at St Mary’s Church in Hitchin

Welsh organist Jane Watts at her recital at St Mary's Church in Hitchin on Saturday.

Welsh organist Jane Watts at her recital at St Mary's Church in Hitchin on Saturday. - Credit: Archant

A programme to train organists from near and far at St Mary’s Church in Hitchin was inaugurated on Saturday with a recital by a top international organist.

Dorothy Wells, benefactor of the Dorothy Wells Organ Foundation at St Mary's Church in Hitchin.

Dorothy Wells, benefactor of the Dorothy Wells Organ Foundation at St Mary's Church in Hitchin. - Credit: Archant

Dorothy Wells, a Londoner whose paternal family came from the Hitchin area, honoured the family link with a five-figure bequest to St Mary’s to find the training of young organists after her death last year.

And her son Michael was in the stalls at the weekend when the Dorothy Wells Organ Foundation was inaugurated with a memorable performance by Welsh organ master Jane Watts.

Michael, who was accompanied by close friends of Dorothy’s from London, told the Comet after the recital: “All this would mean a lot to my mother.

“Her family came from St Ippolyts, and she always talked about her parents, particularly her father.


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“It’d have meant a lot to her, so to me and my sister Leslie it’s a wonderful thing.”

Jane Watts said: “It’s a great honour for me to give this recital marking the start of the Dorothy Wells Organ Foundation.”

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Dorothy Wells was born in Hornsey in north London in 1915, the eldest daughter of Percy and Emma Martin, both originally from Herts.

Percy and his brothers had gone to school in St Ippolyts, and Dorothy often visited cousins in Hitchin as a child.

She spent most of her life in Edgware and Stanmore and was a Harrow borough councillor, serving as chairman of planning and schools. She worked in support of the Harrow School of Music and also promoted instrumental music through her role as a governor at several schools.

She is said to have always thought of Hitchin as the Martin family home, and this seems to have married together with her love of music to motivate her bequest to St Mary’s.

St Mary’s director of music Alan Childs said: “The wonderful and unexpected generosity of the late Dorothy Wells has given St Mary’s a fantastic chance to become a centre of education for young organists both locally and nationally.

“We are truly grateful that Dorothy Wells kept St Mary’s in her thoughts throughout her long life. The setting up of the organ foundation will keep her name alive for many years to come.

“If you know young people who are learning or would like to learn the organ, we have a fantastic opportunity here.”

The foundation is set to operate as a scholarship scheme, with a senior organ scholar to be appointed this year, with a junior scholar joining in September 2018.

There will be workshops and master-classes open to organists from across the country, regular organ recitals, and there will be an allowance for sheet music.

Anyone interested in the scholarships should contact Alan Childs on a.j.childs@btinternet.com.

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