John Blaber's Family - The Scottish
Years: 1988 - Present
Page last updated:
2 June 2015
Church and Organ
- I took up the full-time appointment
of resident organist and choirmaster at St Mary's Dalmahoy,
Edinburgh on 16th
July 2006 and retired from being a full-time organist on 25th May
I was then appointed Organist Emeritus of St Mary's Dalmahoy.
- I now deputise at various
churches as and when required. This is very interesting as I get to
play many different organs of all sizes and locations within
buildings and attend a wide range of service types.
The Organ - St Mary's Dalmahoy,
St Mary's, Dalmahoy
John at the
- The organ at St Mary's, Dalmahoy is
by the famous Edinburgh organ builder, Hamilton. It was rebuilt and
enlarged in 2009 by Henry Willis & Sons Ltd., and the opening
concert was given by the late Carlo Curley 25 May 2009, the
world-famous American Concert Organist. Carlo gave a
return concert in 2011. Sadly, Carlo died just short of his 60th
birthday on 11 August 2012.
Click here for full
details of the organ.
Click here to go to St Mary's, Dalmahoy web site
- In 2010 the Celebrity Organ
Concert was given by Dr Gordon Stewart (www.gordonstewart.org).
- The 2013 the Celebrity Organ Concert
was given by Dr Carol Williams of San Diego, California, USA. Carol
is organist in residence at St Paul's Cathedral, San Diego, Civic
Organist of the City of San Diego, and Organist and Artistic
Director of the world's largest outdoor organ in Balbao Park, San
Diego, USA. (www.melcot.com).
Carol will be making a very welcome return visit to St Mary's,
Dalmahoy in 2016.
- In November 1988 we moved to Scotland as I took up the post
of Manager of Scottish Operations for John Crane UK Ltd. I was
appointed organist and choirmaster of Christ Church, Lanark. Here I
was able to redesign the 2-manual pipe organ and had it rebuilt and
remodelled, with additional stops, by Rushworth and Dreaper. I resigned from this
post in 1994.
- I still play occasionally at Christ Church for
mid-week services and special occasions.
John at the console
during the rebuild. Only three stops fitted at date of photograph. The
church was full of organ pipes!!
Note the very welcome heater
in a cold church.
- Sunday, 26 February 2006. John back in the organ
loft at Christ Church, Lanark, playing the final voluntary.
- In 1994 I transferred to St Paul & St John the Evangelist
Church, Airdrie, Lanarkshire, as organist and
choirmaster. Here we were lucky enough to have two organs. We
received (June 1997) over £19,000 from the National Lottery
Fund towards rebuilding the smaller 2-manual Chancel Organ of this
church. The total cost of the work was £25,000. The contract
was awarded to Rushworth and Dreaper of Liverpool, and the organ was
re-dedicated by the Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway on Thursday, 30th
April 1998. We also celebrated the centenary of the church on this
date. I resigned from this church in April 2001.
- Here is a video of
me practising on the main organ in 2000. Lots of wrong notes, but it
was perfect on the day of performance!!
here for video
John Airdire 2000.wmv
St Paul and St John the
The Main Organ console is in
the foreground (excuse the red candles - the photo was taken Christmas
2000). The small Chancel Organ can be seen in the background
- From May 2001, we were members of St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh
until June 2006.
This beautiful cathedral is the largest ecclesiastic building in
Scotland. Uniquely in Scotland, it maintains daily choral services, with
arguably the best choir in Scotland, with the treble line drawn from
pupils of St Mary's Music School.
to go to the Cathedral's web site.
details of the four-manual Father Willis organ at Edinburgh Cathedral.
- In May 1994 I was appointed International Customer Training
Manager for John Crane, Europe, Middle East, Asia and Africa (EAA), travelling
the world (except the Americas) organising and running training courses for our customers. My most
interesting trip in 1996 was to Chennai (Madras), India, and that of 1997 was to
Israel, training in a state owned oil refinery.
- Also during 1997 I travelled to Finland and Sweden to collect
information to develop a training course for the Pulp & Paper
- A couple of interesting trips I made during 1998:
1. Driving to the Czech Republic, via the Channel Tunnel, France,
Belgium and Germany, to Rosnov which is in the East of the Czech
republic, close to the Slovak border. A journey of 3.1/2 days each way
from Scotland! I ran a week-long training course there for the Czech Oil
Refineries, in a superb hotel in a very beautiful part of the country, well away
from the industrial areas.
2. Qatar, Middle East, December 1998. I ran two courses for RasGas
Liquified Natural Gas Company. Very enjoyable - good courses, great
people, interesting scenery (flat desert), perfect weather. Only problem
was that the UK & USA decided to bomb Iraq which rather delayed my
return to the UK! However, I made it home in time for Christmas - just.
- I returned to the Middle East in February 1999 to run three
courses for the state owned Israel Electricity Corporation at their Training
Centre. Another very enjoyable trip, and I managed to spend a day
sight-seeing in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, it was very cold and rained all day.
This was surprising as there was quite a severe drought at the time!
The weather for the rest of my stay was hot and sunny.
little me - sixth from the right - at the Electricity Corporation
Training Centre, with some of the course delegates.)
- Another interesting trip in October 1999 was to Kuwait, running
three training courses for Equate Petrochemicals. I was invited back by
Equate Petrochemicals in 2002 and in April I ran another four courses.
From there, I went to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia for four weeks - see
- Until my leaving John Crane EAA in July 2005 (see below) I spent three months per year in
the Middle East (e.g., Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar), running training
courses for companies such as Saudi Aramco and SABIC, which were
very enjoyable experiences.
Training Course for
Saudi Aramco in Al-Khobar, May 2002
In left-hand picture, John is on back row, 4th from right.
- In July 2005 I took early retirement from John
Crane EAA. My final training trip to the Middle East for John Crane
was to run some courses at Qatar Chemicals (Q-Chem) in
- (Photograph to the right
taken on the plant at Q-Chem, Qatar - I'm in the blue shirt!)
John taking a cool
(non-alcoholic) drink on the balcony in the Jeddah Hilton, Saudi Arabia, after a hard
- I am now Managing Director of the
Oil & Gas Industries engineering
training company - Mnemonics Training Limited.
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