Current Members of the IBO Board

Andrew Moyes (President)

Andrew worked first as a control system designer for GEC Traction, then as Rolling Stock Electrical Engineer for Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway and Rolling Stock Engineer for London Underground’s new Jubilee Line Extension.  His involvement in the organ building craft started in the early 1980s when he worked with Alan Taylor on several projects including the very first application of microprocessor control to a church organ. In 1994, he applied himself full time to organ building and became Managing Director of Nicholson & Co. in Malvern.  During his tenure, the firm has moved to modern premises and has built and rebuilt organs in Malvern, Christchurch and Bridlington Priories, Southwell Minster, Portsmouth, Gloucester and Llandaff Cathedrals. He was bemused to find himself being consulted by the BBC on the script for the overhaul of the fictional Ambridge church organ in The Archers!  He has previously served twice as a board member

Abigail Balfour-Rowley

Abigail started to learn to play the organ at the age of 16, when the organist at her local church offered to give her some lessons. Thinking that Music was a subject which was unlikely to lead to a proper job after university, she instead studied Psychology, before failing to get a proper job after university. She eventually found work as a secretary, and studied part-time alongside this, with the aim of gaining additional Psychology qualifications and getting a proper job. At the same time, she started working as an organist with an organ which was (to put the best possible interpretation on the situation) inspiring, insofar as it brought out previously unnoticed desires to learn how to repair organs. This position also led to her becoming Organ Scholar at Lancaster Priory.
After failing to gain funding for her PhD on two separate occasions, Abigail decided that she would probably actually be happier in a job where one was paid to climb around churches, and make and fix things; even more so when there is rarely any requirement to produce vast academic documents. She therefore decided that she would become an organ builder; a decision she rarely regrets.
She has been working full-time as an organ builder since September 2010, and has worked for David Wells, and Harrison & Harrison, moving to Goetze and Gwynn in 2013. She feels she is starting to find her feet as an organ builder, and is enjoying the variety of work her current situation entails.
Being in a position of receiving quite a bit of training recently, she is enthusiastic about the proposed training scheme. One of her aspirations as a Board Member is to assist with progressing this cause, in whatever way seems most useful, in order eventually to end up with a course which is useful to the industry and responds to its needs, whilst being sustainable. Should her background in Educational Research (the endpoint of her Psychology studies) be of assistance, she would be delighted to help in this way, also.
Apart from that, she endeavours to use her board membership to maintain and improve standards within British Organ Building.

Michael Blighton

Michael was born and raised in South London, and being a member of the very fine local church choir, got interested in the pipe organ in his early teens. 'At secondary school our badly vandalised organ needed repairing, and I volunteered my services to one of the school’s teachers who was a keen amateur builder. I wondered if this might be an interesting career and aged 16, managed to get a job at Geo. Osmond of Taunton. After 9 months I moved closer to home at Mander Organs. One day in 1983 I wondered into the Voicing Shop looking for a job to fill a vacant afternoon, and ended up staying there until this day. Being one of the few full-time voicers left in this country, I am keen to see the IBO pursue ways of passing on the skills of voicing and other disciplines of our craft.
In my spare time I like to read, cook, watch films, go to the gym and I love to travel to places I can't really afford!'

Gordon Blackledge

Gordon joined the organ building world in 1978 after leaving school and have remained in full time employment within our craft ever since. Apprenticed with Henry Ainscough Ltd of Preston and continuing the learning curve for a total of eleven years before having the opportunity to quench my thirst for knowledge within the trade and broaden my experience, at J W Walker & Sons Ltd. For the last nineteen years I have been gainfully employed by David Wells Organ Builders Ltd.
 
I consider my self very fortunate, not only having covered most aspects of our profession, but also privileged to have worked along side some of the great artisans of yesteryear, who not only offered advice, but took the time and patience to pass on vital practical skills.
 
Outside work I enjoy walking, gardening, choral conducting & accompaniment, and I am Organist and Director of Music at a busy town centre Church.
 
A second chance at becoming a board member of the IBO would give me the opportunity to work with other members in maintaining the high and recognised profile, throughout and beyond the organ building world. Promote the work and standards already set by our organisation, with forward thinking in order to safeguard our future as professional organ builders and indeed our heritage. 

Richard Bower

Richard Bower studied the piano at school and that lead to Graduation from the Royal College of Music as an organist. Interest soon moved beyond the console; turned down by the established firms because of age he joined E & W Storr, organ builders in the home city of Norwich;  Edward Storr was apprenticed directly to Ernest Norman and talked about the men there so I still feel a special affinity with Norman & Beard’s work. My own apprenticeship turned to partnership and proprietorship and in 1980’s the name turned to Bower & Company building new tracker actioned organs. The 1990’s saw the arrival of my CAD and this enabled several suspended actioned two manual organs and interesting reconstructions including Gibraltar Cathedral and Hampstead Parish Church. The study and restoration of Holdich has been special and his éclat never fails. Preservation of our history is important and there is so much past excellence out there but often later alteration has destroyed the integrity. Richard’s weekend job is on the organ stool as Director of Music at a market town church. Playing fires the appreciation and the improvement! The control of the pallet in relation to pipe speech is the essence of our craft, without it the digital world will prevail. The challenge is to lead our future generation to appreciate, restore and develop our craft.

Jake Holmes

'Originally from Surrey I started to learn the organ about ten years ago after becoming fascinated with the music of Bach and having played the piano since I was about 7. Being interested in all things mechanical, I quickly became interested in what happens behind the keys and started working for H&H as a tuner’s assistant. I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to train as a tuner, moving to Bristol for 2 years to manage a busy and growing tuning round. There I enjoyed maintaining a variety of organs of all shapes, sizes, and mechanisms in a round that stretched from Swansea to Winchester.
In early 2016 I relocated back to London to succeed Andrew Scott as H&H London tuner where I’m responsible, with the assistance of 2 able colleagues, for maintaining a broad range of instruments as well as standing by for major events and concerts. As a candidate for the IBO board I am particularly interested in helping to promote high standards of tuning and maintenance (as well as pragmatic and meaningful training in this area) which is often the first point of contact clients have with organ builders.'

 

Sebastian Meakin

Sebastian was born into a musical family (his maternal grandfather was an organist and composer) but, with no musical skills himself, joined JW Walker & Sons, Ltd. as an apprentice in 1980.
He attended the Gewerbliche Berufschule in Ludwigsburg with the Company’s support, leaving the firm in 1986 to establish his own business, based in North London, contracting to JWW at intervals over succeeding years. He moved to Wiltshire in 1990, rejoined Walkers in 2004 and accepted an offer to buy the shares in the Company in 2006.
He serves as a board member in order to support an organisation whose aims are clearly to improve standards in organ building and to promote a wider understanding of what makes an instrument good. He is also particularly keen to improve the standing and prospects of individual organ builders in the UK.

Les Ross

Les Ross has spent 53 years in organ building, joining Noel Mander as an apprentice in 1962. His training covered the complete range of component manufacture and restoration, including making new reservoirs, tracker actions and slider soundboards, and he also spent some time preparing and voicing new pipework, as well as assisting in tonal finishing. After a few years exploring the world outside organ building he returned to Manders in 1989, taking charge of the site assembly of many projects around the world, before becoming Workshop Manger in 1997. Attracted by the flexibility of self-employment he stepped out into the wider world again in 2005, since when he has continued working on a free-lance basis with a number organ builders, but is now taking things a little easier in order to spend more time at home. He is married to Jan, and has four children and nine grandchildren.