Eric Lunn

Have your say

THE varied talents of Eric Lunn, who has died aged 84, brought him into the lives of many people in many walks of life, including an organist in prison for committing murder.

At 16 he was playing the organ at his local church and running the choir.

Born to Lucy and her husband George Lunn, an engine driver who drove the Royal train when the young Queen Elizabeth visited Yorkshire early on in her reign, he was originally named Geoffrey.

But as his maternal grandmother found the name difficult to pronounce, his father decided, on the way to register the birth, that he should be Eric instead, announcing the sudden change of plan when he got back home.

It was a church-going family and Mr and Mrs Lunn sent their boy to the Alverthorpe Methodist Church Sunday School, Wakefield, which was attended by Anne Gascoigne, who lived nearby.

She was three and would become musical; at nine, he already was.

By the time she was 17 their relationship had become serious. Engagement followed, and in Alverthorpe Methodist Church in 1956 they were married.

By then Mr Lunn, who had won a scholarship to Queen Elizabeth Grammar School where he had often played the piano at school assemblies, was a school teacher.

Following their marriage, the couple continued their close involvement with the church.

Mr Lunn was choirmaster for well over 60 years, and for many years the couple took part in the annual performance of the Messiah presented at West Parade, the main Methodist church in the centre of Wakefield.

One year the choir was invited to perform at Wakefield Prison, the organist on that occasion a murderer who was not familiar with the oratorio, and it was Mr Lunn’s job to help him.

Mr Lunn did his two-year National Service working as an instrument repairer in the RAF and as clerk to one of his unit’s officers, and once out of the Army he took his place at Westminster College, the Methodist training college for men.

There, specialising in music and religious education, he became a member of the choir at Westminster Central Hall, a member of the joint choir with Southlands, the Methodist Ladies’ College based in Wimbledon – where his future wife later trained – and was part of the preaching teams that went out to take services in the Methodist churches around London.

While he was at college, a mass X-ray revealed that he had TB, and he spent 11months in hospital and rehab before he returned to Wakefield in 1953.

Mr Lunn started his qualified teaching career at Ings Road Secondary School, Wakefield. From there he moved to take charge of the music at Rothwell Secondary School and later moved to Fairfax Community School in Bradford as Head of Music.

During his time in Wakefield he was part of a team, headed by Winnie Moseley (later Darling), organising the Annual Schools Choirs’ Festival.

The start of the 1990s brought responsibilities for playing for the Methodist Circuit Services.

When he and his wife were setting up home at the start of their marriage, Mr Lunn taught musical appreciation and singing at night school.

He was later involved with the Tingley Sylvians Gilbert and Sullivan Society, the Rodillian Singers, the Rothwell Senior Citizens’ Choir, and with playing for ballet classes in Walton and Ossett.

After his early retirement in 1985, he was asked to lead the University of the Third Age musical appreciation group, an activity which filled his Wednesday mornings for many years.

Alongside his love of playing the piano, Mr Lunn was also skilled at tuning the instruments.

He wrote many hymn tunes, some of which were sung by the Alverthorpe choir, and his ability to arrange music for barber-shop singing groups, and instruments other than the piano and organ, was much appreciated.

Another, and a completely different interest also competed for his time: from childhood, Mr Lunn had been fascinated by watches and clocks, studying their mechanisms and learning to repair them, at which he became proficient.

His skill enabled him to help the Wakefield Hospice by repairing and sometimes valuing the many varied time pieces that came their way.

In 2005, he was one of those chosen to receive the Maundy Money from the Queen when she came to Wakefield Cathedral that year.

Mr Lunn is survived by his wife and their children Michael and Nichola, and four granddaughters.