Organist played on, from Dawn until dusk

TALENT: Dawn Dalkin has retired from playing the organ at St Andrew's Uniting Church in Ararat. She began playing the instrument as a youngster after learning to play the piano.
TALENT: Dawn Dalkin has retired from playing the organ at St Andrew's Uniting Church in Ararat. She began playing the instrument as a youngster after learning to play the piano.

DAWN Dalkin, 85, has struck her final notes at St Andrew's Uniting Church in Ararat after decades playing church organs.

Mrs Dalkin started to learn to play piano from the age of eight.

She transferred her skills to the organ, when she did funerals for her father, Russell Ogilvie, who was the organist at a Methodist Church.

When she, her late husband Lance and family lived at Ballyrogan, the members of the local Presbyterian Church found out Mrs Dalkin could play.

Mrs Dalkin said they pulled her up onto the organ, where she played until the church closed.

The family moved into Ararat in 1986, and from that time, Mrs Dalkin played every Sunday service at St Andrew's Uniting Church.

She also played every second of the church’s Sunday evening services, during the years they were held.

“It was not only the church services, it’s the social side of it, too – the fetes, the picnics, the church concerts, if there was anything, I was in it,” Mrs Dalkin said. 

Her musical talents and community spirit also saw Mrs Dalkin play the keyboard at the Hopkins Correctional Centre once a fortnight for seven years.

Once a month, they would hold communion.

Mrs Dalkin recalls baking bread and taking it with her to communion, much to the prisoners’ delight.

“I don’t think they’d let you do that these days,” Mrs Dalkin said.

Music and church have been pillars of Mrs Dalkin’s life.

She was involved in the Ararat Eisteddfod for 25 years and the Ararat Musical Comedy Society for 30 years.

St Andrew's Uniting Church council member Howard Hutchison said Mrs Dalkin’s had “...left a huge hole in the church life”.

“Music was not the sole benefactor of Dawn’s talents. She was one of a small group of ladies that instigated the church’s successful [Christmas] pudding bake each year,” Mr Hutchison said.

He said she also made “hundreds” of bottles of tomato sauce and jam for the annual fete each year – and there were people who not only bought her preserves every year, but a few that even bought a year’s supply.

“The annual fete to be held on Saturday April 29 will still have a well-stocked preserve stall; a fitting tribute for a job well done, Dawn,” he said.

Mr Hutchison said while it was sad that Mrs Dalkin had retired as church organist, he appreciated that as her health had deteriorated she could no longer play to the high standard she wanted.

Or in Mrs Dalkin’s own words: “From the neck up, she’s OK, but from the neck down, she’s gone to the dogs.”