Vicar's 18-hour organ recital for the future of Stoke Methodist Church
THE prospect of an 18-hour organ recital held no fears for methodist minister David Cooper last night.
The musical clergyman has previously shown his staying power at the keyboards by completing a 30-hour stint.
In fact as Mr Cooper settled into his latest energy-sapping performance at the Stoke Methodist Church he said: "This may seem a long time but compared to my previous feat it will be a walk in the park."
As that personal best was achieved a quarter of a century ago, his parishioners kept him fortified throughout last night with regular refills of an energy drink.
Mr Cooper, from Market Drayton, who has been the church's minister for four years, was pulling out all the stops to raise money to refurbish a former inn which will be its next place of worship.
By playing from 3pm yesterday until 9am today he was hoping to generate around £3,000 towards the £400,000 needed to transform the West End pub in the town's London Road to its next place of worship.
Besides general sponsorship, the congregation also chipped in by making donations for Mr Cooper to play their favourite hymns at two hour-long community sessions.
But his repertoire also included plenty of secular pieces ranging from pop songs and film tunes to Christmas carols.
The minister said: "Because it is over such a long time, I have a lot of songs to get through but as I've played the organ most of my life I should have plenty to choose from without having to repeat any.
"I'm playing most from memory and I've only got the sheet music here as a back up.
"It's just an honour for me to be doing this to help the church into its next exciting stage.
"The world record stands at three weeks and if I make it to 18 hours I may try for a few more. But I have no designs on beating my own personal best of 30 hours."
Around £150,000 has so far been raised from grants and cash-spinning ventures such as pie and pea suppers and choir concerts.
The West End will be opened for an art exhibition as part of the annual London Road Festival on June 8 and 9 and a charity auction is planned for June 14 to get more cash rolling in.
Worshippers hope to hit the target and move into the ex-pub next year. They have been at the current Epworth Street church since 1985.
Linda Beeston, aged 66, of Oakhill, has been a member all her life and was once Brown Owl of the church's Brownie group.
She said: "We can't wait to move to the new place which will be a community church for all groups to use.
"Congregations have dwindled partly because we are tucked away here. London Road is far more prominent.
"Our survey showed 1,800 people walked past there in 20 hours so we hope to reach out to many of them."