Celebrating Canon Percy Gay MBE

On St George’s Day, Sunday 23 April 2023, a blue plaque was revealed at St George’s Hall in recognition of Canon Percy Gay

He was vicar at St George’s for 45 years from 1930 to 1975. He fought tirelessly to save the church from closure in the 1960s. His death coincided with a dwindling congregation as many of the nearby houses were converted into offices. St George’s was finally declared redundant as a place of worship in 1984. But soon after closure, St George’s Music Trust was formed and the building was converted into a concert venue. The Trust referred to their being inspired by Canon Gay’s enduring passion for music and the arts.

At today’s ceremony, there was a brief welcome and introduction from Samir Savant, Chief Executive, St George’s and from Gordon Young of the Society’s Blue Plaque Panel.

Rodney Drew, former chorister and the last organist at St George’s, then gave several interesting anecdotes about his very fond memories of working with Canon Percy Gay.

He was followed by Brenda Whitehead, former head teacher at St George’s Primary School who fondly recalled Canon Gay’s involvement with school outings and film evenings. At all times, Percy Gay treated the children with great respect and shared much humour with them. “There was seldom a moment without the sound of laughter”.

Reverend Canon Peter Garlick, the son of St George’s long-serving organist George Garlick, then shared his many memories of his father and Canon Gay in the latter years of St George’s as a church.

Finally, Rodney Drew performed a very special Piano Nocturne written by George Garlick. This was its first performance at St George’s since 1947.

The plaque is now installed opposite the Bristol Civic Society Design Award from 2019.

Malcolm Ravenscroft


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