The inaugural concert of the launch of the ‘Friends of St. Thomas a Becket Church, Huntington’ took place on Saturday. (June 21st)

Orlando Jopling, the internationally known cellist was invited to St Thomas’s as part of his national Cello Pilgrimage to English country churches.  It is the 111th time he has played in a historic church across the country, to fulfill his long held dream of re-invigorating them as community gathering places and helping to keep each one in good repair for the next generation.

‘The Friends of St. Thomas a Becket’ has been formed to raise funds for the future of this gem of a medieval church.  It is one of the smallest in the country, but it was completely full as visitors from Huntington and many other parts of Herefordshire and Powys experienced a unique evening.  Many had never before been near Huntington.

It was the most perfect English Mid-Summer’s evening.  Warm shafts of evening sunlight glinted through the trees.  It was warm with little wind and the birds were singing.  After the audience were seated, the nave was darkened with the exception of the chancel and this was lit entirely by candle-light.  The church acoustic created by the natural stone made the cello sing out with joy and sadness at the same time.  The whole audience were moved beyond words at the brilliance of Bach’s writing.  Yet the encore was even more perfect as Orlando Jopling finished by playing the famous piece by the man who discovered the Bach Cello Suites in a library, when he himself was a teenager - Pablo Casals – as he played the haunting, ‘The Birds’.

Then all 75 Friends adjourned to the nearby Huntington Court, where the owners, William and Fiona Shone, who had done so much to prepare for the evening, held a buffet reception in their grounds.  Many from the village provided the food and everyone agreed, it was a wonderful start to the new era of culture in North West Herefordshire.