THE rafters were raised when a huge new pipe organ was officially unveiled at a north Hampshire church.

The congregation at All Saints’ in Odiham gathered for a service to dedicate the instrument, which was installed in memory of their choirmaster who died in a road accident.

At a time when many church pipe organs are disappearing, All Saints’ has managed to raise a remarkable £300,000 to install a new instrument with 1,700 pipes and 22 stops.

The project was inspired by Ian Ledsham, who was the church’s director of music when he died in an accident on the A31 in 2005.

Last Sunday, worshippers, who took six years to raise the money, heard the organ put through its paces for the first time by organist Robert Gillman.

About 300 people attended, including Angela Ledsham, Mr Ledsham’s widow, North East Hampshire MP James Arbuthnot and Councillor Ken Crookes, leader of Hart District Council.

Mrs Ledsham and her son Oliver both gave readings at the service, which was conducted by the Right Reverend Dom Timothy Bavin, of Alton Abbey.

The Rev Canon Michael Bever, vicar of Odiham until 2007, gave a sermon and recalled Mr Ledsham’s sudden death.

He said: “Nothing in Odiham for me was ever the same again. I believe his music was part of Ian’s expression of his faith.

“It’s this faith that we, should celebrate.”

After the service, the congregation enjoyed a buffet in the neighbouring Mayhill Junior School.

Mrs Ledsham told The Gazette: “I thought the service was a very fitting tribute to Ian.

“He would have been impressed by the music, the commitment to build the organ and the service.”

Tim Paton headed the project, helping to organise fundraising events such as hymnathons, performances by classical musicians and silent auctions.

He said: “It was emotional for me and others who have been involved in the project for a long time.”