THERE was music in the air as a small church unveiled its newly-refurbished 125-year old organ.

Organists from across the North-East visited Whitworth Church, in Spennymoor, at the weekend to play recitals on the 1886 Harrison and Harrison organ, which has undergone a £40,000 restoration.

Among the musicians was Mark Venning, from Harrison and Harrison, in Durham, which restored the 400-pipe organ -manually tuning each pipe.

The congregation, which sometimes has fewer than a dozen members, decided in 2008 to start fundraising as the organ was in danger of becoming irreparable.

Half of the money raised came from charitable trusts and charities and the Durham Diocese and the other half came from the local community, including Spennymoor Town Council.

The church opened to the public at the weekend to hear the recitals and hosted a celebratory flower festival, with displays by Whitworth's parishioners and from other County Durham churches.

Vivienne Lowe, chairwoman of Whitworth Parochial Church Council's (PCC) organ restoration subgroup, said: "We are just delighted that we have got here and we are immensely relieved.

"It has been an amazing weekend and there has been a lot of impromptu singing.

"The guest organists have been very fulsome in their praise."

Chris Rhodes, who is also a PCC and subgroup member, said: "There were people who said to us at first that we would never raise that much money because we are such a small congregation.

"This church is very dear to the community's hearts.

"Even though people may not attend regularly, the fact that they have been so generous given the hard times we are in shows the esteem in which it is held."

The celebrations continue this weekend with a performance of sacred and light music at the church, by Chester-le-Street Civic Choir, on Saturday, including works by composers John Rutter, Vivaldi, Karl Jenkins and Alan Howarth.

The event starts at 7pm and tickets cost £4.50.

St Paul's Church choir will perform a celebration of weddings at Whitworth on Friday, July 15, at 7.30pm, and Sunday, July 17, at 3pm, including work by Handel, Goodall and Widor. Tickets cost £4.50.

To book tickets for the events, call Chris Rhodes on 01388-816643 or Vivienne Lowe on 0191-378-0974.