Dawn Dalkin, 85, has struck her final notes at St Andrew's Uniting Church, after decades playing church organs.
Mrs Dalkin learnt piano from the age of eight and transferred her skills to the organ, following her father, Russell Ogilvie, who was the organist at a Methodist Church.
When she, late husband Lance and family lived at Ballyrogan, the members of the local Presbyterian Church discovered Mrs Dalkin could play, and 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.
“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.”
She also played the keyboard at the Hopkins Correctional Centre once a fortnight for seven years. Once a month, they’d hold communion, and Mrs Dalkin recalls baking bread and taking it in, much to the prisoners’ delight.
“I don’t think they’d let you do that these days,” Mrs Dalkin said.
Her love for music also saw Mrs Dalkin’s be 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 ever year, but a few bought a year’s supply.
He 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!”