Current Members of the IBO Board
Christopher Batchelor (President)
Chris was an organ scholar at Hertford College, Oxford during which time he was taught the organ by James Dalton. Upon graduation he moved to Cambridge where, under the supervision of Peter le Huray, he pursued research into seventeenth-century English church music, being awarded M.Phil and Ph.D degrees. During this time he held positions at both Downing and Gonville & Caius Colleges. Succeeding Christopher Bowers-Broadbent as Director of Music & Organist of St Pancras Parish Church in 1988, Chris moved to London. He has taught at a number of institutions, including University College School and the Royal Military School of Music (Kneller Hall) where he was Professor of Orchestration and Arranging. In 2002 Chris founded the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music, an annual event which involves many of London’s world-class choral foundations in a week-long celebration of contemporary music. Following the re-establishment of the London College of Music in 2006, Chris became head of the institution, working with many well-known colleagues and establishing a modern conservatoire. His contributions to education and contemporary church music have recently been acknowledged by the award of an Hon. FLCM. Alongside his performing experience, Chris has a long-standing practical interest in the organ. Chris joined H&H on 31st January 2011.
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.
Stephen started Organ Building at the age of 15 whilst carrying out work experience at F H Browne and Sons Ltd. He was then offered an apprenticeship which he ‘gladly accepted’. After 4 years with FHB he wanted to further his Organ Building career and moved to Mander Organs, where he ‘worked with some excellent organ builders’ and gained valuable experience with Tracker action Organs and the building of new soundboards; he was also involved with the rebuild at the Royal Albert Hall and several Organs in America.
After a break from Organ Building, he returned to F H Browne and Sons Ltd as a Director, becoming Managing Director and owner and is looking to expand the business and develop the company further.
F H Browne currently employs 3 apprentices and Stephen ‘would like to be influential with the promising new prospects that British Organ Building has, for the future of the trade’.
Michael has been involved in organ building for over 40 years, participated in the establishment of the IBO and is serving his second term as a Board member. He is also a long-standing member of the Accreditation sub-committee. Professionally he is now self-employed but has previously worked for Kenneth Tickell and Co. He is an active member of Worcester Cathedral Choir.
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.
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!'
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.
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.