AFTER a lifetime’s service at Trelystan’s St Mary The Virgin Church, Elvet Richards, who turns 90 next week, has received a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year’s Honours list.

For 73 years he has been seen behind the church organ, playing a myriad of hymns at services and celebrations.

He went to Sunday school, married his wife Lellia there and had all four of his children baptised at the church.

He was also church warden and sadly buried his wife there.

The County Times met up with Elvet and he could still remember the day he first played the organ at the church.

The date of August 26, 1945, had been noted in a family heirloom, his father’s diary.

Elvet, who used to farm at Red House, Trelystan, turns 90 next Thursday, January 11.

He said: “I had a few piano lessons and there was an organ at home.

“I was 17 years old when I first played the organ here, it was August 26, 1945. I was just supposed to fill in.

“There was a woman from Leighton who played, but she had difficulty coming up here every Sunday.

And for most of that time, grandfather of eight and great grandfather of six, Elvet has sat at the organ wearing his beloved robe.

“I was given the robe by the Rev Jack Griffiths, about 12 months after I started.

“It confirmed me in the role,” said Elvet.

He added: “Before coming to Trelystan he was a chaplain in the armed forces and had served in Burma.

“I’ve enjoyed playing, there have been three different organs since I started here.

“This last one sounds best.”

Elvet explained that he needs to pump the wind through the organ by pedalling with his feet.

“Vicars have wondered how many miles I’d walked in doing that,” said Elvet.

Over the years, Elvet has received awards for being the organist at Trelystan for both 60 and 70 years service to the church from the Bishop of Hereford.

Although Trelystan is in Powys, it is one of a number of parishes in the county that are part of the diocese of Hereford.

Elvet found out about the BEM after receiving a letter in November that he was to receive the honour.

“I received the letter on November 17 and it was in strict confidence, I only told my daughter Yvonne.”

Elvet added: “My favourite piece of music is ‘We love thy place of God’ I played it at the very first service here, had it at our wedding and my wife’s funeral.”

During his time Elvet has worked alongside 10 vicars and has played in church services for five Bishops of Hereford.

Last year he was given the honour of opening the annual Trelystan Fete.

And for most of his time playing the organ, it has been totally voluntary.

Elvet said: “I was paid £2 a year for playing the organ for about seven or eight years.

“But when I was made a church warden, I didn’t want to sign a cheque paying for myself so I said I’d do it for nothing and have done that ever since.”

Daughter Yvonne Evans said: “We’re all very proud, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing and we’re looking forward to visiting Buckingham Palace.”