Prince Charles pays tribute to octogenarian Scottish organist

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Prince Charles pays tribute to ‘incredible’ octogenarian church organist who has played for 75 years as he attends church service during his annual visit to Scotland

  • Prince Charles, 73, enjoys annual stay at Castle Mey near John O’Groats
  • He attended Sunday service at Canisbay Church in Caithness yesterday
  • Afterward, he honored organist Mary Edmondson, 89, for 75 years of service
  • He then planted a mountain ash in the church garden to mark the Queen’s Jubilee

The Prince of Wales has honored a church organist, who has played for 75 years, with a surprise presentation for her dedication.

Charles, 73, known as the Duke of Rothsay in Scotland, presented Mary Edmondson, 89, with a basket of flowers after the service at Canisbay Parish Church in Caithness yesterday.

The royal currently enjoys his annual stay at Castle Mey, near John O’Groats, which belonged to the late Queen Mother, and as she attends Canisbay Parish Church when he stays there.

He wore traditional Scottish dress when attending the service, complementing his kilt with knee high socks and a sporran.

Miss Edmondson began playing the organ at the age of 14 and has played the instrument in various churches over the past seven and a half decades.

Prince Charles (left) described church organist Mary Edmondson (right) as an ‘incredible woman’, presenting her with a basket of flowers in recognition of her 75 years of service, playing the organ

The royal (pictured here with Mary Edmondson and the Reverend Janet Easton-Berry) is currently enjoying his annual summer stay in Scotland

The royal (pictured here with Mary Edmondson and the Reverend Janet Easton-Berry) is currently enjoying his annual summer stay in Scotland

Charles praised her for her dedication and also delivered a letter from the moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, who described her as “truly inspirational”.

Miss Edmondson was joined at the church service by her dog Poppy, who travels everywhere with her in a tartan carrier.

Speaking after the service, the 89-year-old said Charles was “quite taken” by Poppy.

She said, “I go everywhere with her and I told her she was going to meet the prince and she licked her shoes, so that was good.”

Charles was invited to give the presentation by the Rev Janet Easton-Berry.

She said: “Mary has been playing the organ in various churches and denominations for 75 years and started playing at Canisbay Church when she was 81.

“She is an amazing and much-loved woman, so we wanted to throw a special surprise for her during the annual royal service.

“I told her at the last minute what was going to happen and the look of surprise on her face was wonderful because she had no idea.

After Sunday service, Prince Charles planted a mountain ash in the church garden to mark the Queen's Platinum

After Sunday service, Prince Charles planted a mountain ash in the church garden to mark the Queen’s Platinum

The royal showed he wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty and got stuck digging a hole in which to plant the sapling

The royal showed he wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and got stuck digging a hole in which to plant the sapling

“When Her Royal Highness approached her with the basket of flowers and the moderator’s letter with a huge smile on her face, she was in absolute shock.

“He was so beautiful and very, very special. He’s a very warm and gracious man and Mary held his hand and told him she started playing the organ when she was 14 .

“Prince Charles told her she must be the oldest organist, having played for 75 years and still active.

“The presentation meant so much to Mary and I told her we appreciate her and love her.”

After the service, Charles planted a mountain ash in the church garden to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and a plaque will be put up at a later date.

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