David Mashford awarded Cross of St Piran
When asked how important faith is to David, it’s not just what he says, but how he says it, “I wouldn’t do what I do without it!” he answered with eyebrows raised and a look that implied, “Isn’t it obvious?”
For David, serving God is as fundamental to him as the need to create, and happily he has found ways to do both. That could be from playing the organ to salvaging one that is over 200 years-old, re-creating majestic church candles from left-over stubs to contributing to epic local pantomimes and the myth that Robin Hood really came from Polbathic, or simply pickling onions to raise church funds. David also works hard to raise funds for cancer charities, and in particular Sarcoma UK.
A love for the organ was kindled when David was just 12 and taught how to play by the local organist at Millbrook, where he was born and still lives. But it was when he was 15, during a two-year stay in the West Indies, that he began to understand the breadth and beauty of playing the organ. “Our neighbour’s brother was the organist at Llandaff Cathedral and often visited. One day he took me to Grenada Cathedral and played, saying, ‘This is how you play,’ then played again and said, ‘This is how you should play.’”
When the family came back home to Millbrook, David was 17 and Antony Parish Church needed a stand-in organist for two weeks, “That was 50 years ago and I’ve been playing there ever since!”
David doesn’t just play there, but at Pelynt and HMS Raleigh, Sheviock where his creativity and resourcefulness came to the fore. The organ was in a poor state, “It made a horrible noise!” laughs David and a decision was made to try to replace it. But not with a new one. David trawled the country and found a neglected but beautiful organ in Wandsworth, London, and, after consultation with an organ-maker, it was agreed to dismantle it and bring it Sheviock. David painstakingly re-built the body of the organ and the organ-maker the pipes, so that today the organ, which was originally crafted in 1806, lives to carry on making beautiful music.
Blessed with a wry sense of humour, David, who is in considerable pain and waiting for an operation, deflects any expressions of sympathy with, “Well, I’m better off than my clients!” David plays the organ for many funerals.
“For whatever you need, the answer is always there – it might not be the answer you wanted, but it’s always there,” says David.
His resourcefulness relies on prayer, “For whatever you need, the answer is always there – it might not be the answer you wanted, but it’s always there,” says David. If he ever needs his faith topped up, he looks out over the glorious Whitsand Bay, “How could anyone not believe?” he asks, with same look of incredulity.