In Memory of Jenny Graham
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“Jenny Graham was someone who possibly didn’t appreciate how cherished she was”. That was the opening remark by Rev Brian Hendrie at her funeral last Thursday, January 12, the first to be held in the new Carrick Centre. Mr Hendrie continued, “That’s because Jenny’s main motivation in life was to serve other folk and not to count the cost or to seek the limelight. “Jenny didn’t consider herself particularly special, but perhaps it’s only now that we can fully appreciate how special she was and the legacy she has left behind.” He said he had spoken with several people since Jenny’s death on Hogmanay and, quite independently of each other, the same phrase has cropped up more than once – “music was her life”.

“As you all know,” Mr Hendrie added, “Jenny played the Church organ for around 70 years starting off at Crosshill Parish Church when she was 14 years old in 1934. “She was then invited by Rev Alex Williamson to play at the West Parish Church, or Glen Kirk as it was commonly known, where she stayed until she retired. “She received a Long Service Award in 2003 to commemorate 60 years of service at the West Parish Church

“It’s also worth pointing out that Jenny continued playing whilst serving in the Land Army during World War II travelling on her bike from farm to church! “As an organist, Jenny not only possessed skill, but sensitivity too – carefully matching the right music to each occasion, whether joyful or more reflective. “She also taught probably hundreds of children to play piano over the course of her lifetime – passing on her passion for music to future generations. “Jenny also tutored Sunday School Choirs, the Church Choir and also a Male Voice Choir. As she told me several times, her sojourn as Organist in Maybole spanned the careers of seven ministers!

“Jenny also taught in Sunday school, played piano for the Guild and Coffee Club, and she worked tirelessly making tablet and selling it in aid of the Organ Fund for many years. Jenny also made delicious meringues which were keenly sought after at the Autumn Fayres.  Mr Hendrie also shared some affectionate anecdotes about Jenny and spoke of her love of her budgies, all called Peter, and her love of watching snooker on television.

“Jenny loved her holidays too, especially when she was younger and once went to the Passion Play at Oberammergau with her mother. “She cherished her family and was especially devoted to her brother Adam before his death in 2010. (Adam celebrated his 100th birthday in 2008.)

Mr Hendrie concluded, “Jenny Graham was a livewire – she loved to laugh and blether, and she didn’t mind if the joke was on her. In the short time that I knew Jenny, I found her to be gracious, energetic and happy and someone it was easy to love. She had that well-known stubborn streak too, but then again, which of us is perfect?

“On behalf of Jenny’s friends, I’d take this opportunity to express our sympathies to members of Jenny’s family here today and those unable to be here. We mourn Jenny with you, but we also celebrate her life with you – a life that was long and fruitful in touching so many lives. “We praise God for the joy it was to know her, to love her and to be loved by her. We praise God for her life-long ministry of music.”

Former minister of the West Parish Church John Stuart, who now serves as pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, went online on the day of her funeral to say, “Next to my wife Evelyn, Jenny Graham was the fastest walker I have ever seen in my life. “When I ministered in Scotland, Jenny could be seen most days cantering down Maybole High Street as she headed to the stores for groceries, the post office for stamps, or the bank for money.

“She was always hurrying to get her messages done and nobody could keep up with her. Walking alongside Jenny was not an option and everybody smiled a good morning or good afternoon to her as she trotted past them. “When I knew her at first, she was in her sixties, but she continued rocketing along the High Street well into her nineties. “Jenny was a remarkable lady, an amazing pianist, gifted piano teacher, and a wonderful church organist. Music was a great gift to her from God and she used her talents to bless the townsfolk in Maybole for generations.

“Everybody knew who Jenny was and her long life was spent passing on the gift of her faith through music. “When I was pastor at the Glen Kirk in Maybole, Jenny was immensely helpful to me, especially in the putting together of worship services. I appreciated her skills, her stories of past ministers, her great friendship, and total commitment to the church. Much of what I accomplished in the congregation had a lot to do with Jenny’s support.

“Jenny passed away on New Year’s Eve and her funeral service took place today. Many people would have been in attendance from all over the town and from all of the churches. It must have been strange, though, not having Jenny playing the music. “She had an amazing life with wonderful skills, and many people like me feel blessed to have known her. I’m also left with a wonderful image in my head of Jenny at the Pearly Gates cantering through them with St Peter behind her trying to catch up!

Jenny was also recognised by Maybole Community Council in its Millennium Year Scrolls of Appreciation Award ceremony. Everyone will miss Jenny Graham.


Elspeth Kidd said, “Jenny was a ‘character’. She was an essential part of the Guild.


“For the 40 years I have been a member and long before, Jenny played the piano for us. For a time, she was Treasurer and held the Guild’s purse strings very firmly indeed. She was faithful in her support of all Guild ventures where music and participation of the choir were required.


“In 2003, the West Parish Church celebrated her 60 years as organist and to mark this incredible achievement Jenny wanted nothing more than a lasting memento of ’her’ church – a photograph of the interior showing ‘her’ organ, which she treasured. “Jenny did not make a great show of her faith, but she knew her bible, amazing the seven ministers she served by her ability to match hymns and anthems accurately with the themes of their sermons.


“Although 60 years of service had passed in 2003, she didn’t retire but remained firmly at the organ until the West Parish Church closed its doors in August 2005. The Coffee Club and Midweek Fellowship also benefitted from Jenny’s services where she joined in the worship and played for them. “In years gone by, as Junior Sunday School Superintendent, Jenny ran the Sunday School and staged yearly concerts which were a joy to the mums and dads.


“But it was as choir mistress she excelled. Weekly choir practices were well attended – or she had to know the reason why. West Parish at one time had a 14 strong male voice choir which, under Jenny’s baton, was in great demand in the area and this was supplemented by 18 ladies who together formed the church choir.


“In her private life, all her years were spent in her little house in Kirkoswald Road with her family. During the war she served in the Land Army and recently received a medal in recognition of her work, of which she was extremely proud.


“Jenny was interested in music at an early age, and was organist at Crosshill Church at the tender age of 14, cycling out there each Sunday. During the week she worked in Stevenson’s Baker shop in Maybole. She studied hard, passed her LRAM and became a music teacher. Hundreds of children and adults have benefitted from her expertise over many years.


“Adam, Jenny’s brother, died aged over 100 and was nursed by her for several years before his death, a task of loyalty and devotion which she shouldered without complaint. “A small diversion for her were her budgies – all called Peter; as one passed away it was succeeded by another also called Peter. She taught them all to talk , when they could get a word in. “As I said, Jenny was a character, one who will be remembered fondly and much missed – our Jenny.”