Today we sadly bid farewell to a much loved member of the Parish family who was keenly involved in fundraising for the Willis pipe organ restoration and maintenance for many years - the very special Nina May.

Kath and Nina with the Golden Spot Tombola

Kath and Nina with the Golden Spot Tombola

Nina, along with her late husband Bernard May (who used to be in the Parish Singers), were members of the Sunday/Christmas lunches team (including David and Shirley Scrutton, Kath and the late Keith Hindley, Gerald and Heather Clough) which was fundraising activity we did for the Willis pipe organ in the early days of the restoration project (we did about 3 of them from about 2006-2007). The only photo I could find of Nina at one of those events was while she was eating alongside Bernard (although she is no longer with us, she wouldn't have thanked me for sharing it online!) so instead I am sharing a photo of Keith and Bernard hard at work in the Russell Street School kitchen during one of those delicious lunches, Nina was probably plating up meals nearby when this photo was taken.

Keith and Bernard preparing Sunday lunch

Keith and Bernard preparing Sunday lunch

At concerts, musical bite coffee mornings and organ festivals she was often found with her hands in the washing up bowl or serving refreshments to people with a smile. After the dishwasher was purchased in 2019 which reduced the effort of cleaning up, she continued helping in the serving team to ensure things ran smoothly.

Fiona and Nina hard at work

Fiona and Nina hard at work

Nina sorting out cups for Mulled Wine

Nina sorting out cups for Mulled Wine

Discussing cakes!

Discussing cakes!

She also hosted some wonderful Strawberries and Pimms garden parties for the Music for All @ SMSG volunteers in her glorious Stony Stratford gardens and was always the most welcoming and generous host, interested in making sure every detail of the arrangements were just right and her guests were enjoying themselves.

Lesley and Nina

Lesley and Nina

Nina's other forte in the fundraising for the Willis organ restoration was taking on organising the Golden Spot Tombola with Kath after Sylvia Lovesey died in 2012. Nina and Kath took Sylvia's concept of choosing your own Tombola prize  or winning a marvellous hamper to new lengths as they gathered baskets for hampers, prizes, raffle tickets, golden stickers, cellophane and large bows all year round. Closer to the event she encouraged people to donate food items which they compiled into all the hampers to provide a tempting feast for the eyes as people approached the stall. She and Kath donned glittery golden top hats so they could be seen in the crowds at the SMSG Christmas Fayre as they sold tickets and spun the tombola tickets barrel. We are planning for the Christmas Fayre to go ahead again this year with the Tombola done in tribute to Nina and its founder Sylvia.

Nina and I enjoyed chatting about Trefoil Guild (we had both been Girl Guides and were members of different Guilds, so I wore my Trefoil Guild fleece to her funeral).

Nina loved music so the Willis organ and music making at SMSG meant a lot to her. Today several of her relatives and close friends sang beautifully at her funeral in which the Willis organ was played.

Rest in Peace Nina and thank you for your immeasurable contribution to the life of our parish and music making activities.

Words and photos by Anna Page