Job offer is music to the ears of teenager

Callum Ward and The Canon Nick Darby, Vicar at St James and St Basils. Picture by Simon Williams.
Callum Ward and The Canon Nick Darby, Vicar at St James and St Basils. Picture by Simon Williams.

Many 18-year-olds receiving their A-level results were hoping that their grades were good enough to get them on their first choice university course or apprenticeship programme.

But one school student from Morpeth has chosen a completely different path.

Callum Ward recently became the organist at St James’ and St Basil’s Church in Fenham. This meant that whilst he achieved excellent A Level results – an A and two Bs in history, religious studies and music – a bit of the pressure was lifted from him on results day last Thursday.

What makes the Dame Allan’s Schools student’s appointment even more remarkable is that his great-grandfather was the first organist and choir master at the church.

Appointed in 1931, Fred Ward spent 25 years at St James’ and St Basil’s.

Callum, who prefers to play from memory without music sheets, will play at Sunday services, weddings and funerals, as well as other special services.

He said: “I was really anxious about my results of course, but having my job at the church meant it was certain that I could pursue my music career, which is what I really want to do.

“It feels surreal really – it means a lot to my family and it was very special the first time they saw me play at the church.

“I think my granddad found it emotional, watching me in the job that his father had. I hope I did him proud.”

Other Dame Allan’s Schools students from Morpeth to do well in their A-levels included Daniel Graham and Sophie Johnstone.

Sophie achieved two A*s and one A in religious studies, business studies and English. She is set to study law at either Liverpool or Newcastle University.

She said: “I am so happy with my results. I worked really hard and I’m so pleased that all of my work paid off.”

Daniel received two As and two A*s in history, maths, economics and general studies. He is set to study economics at Durham or York University.

In addition, there were four A grades (maths, further maths, geography and physics) for Matthew Crooks from Ponteland.

Rather than heading straight to university like many of his peers, he will soon be travelling to Australia where he will coach rowing for a year.

Matthew said: “I am really pleased with my results – I worked really hard and I’m glad all of my hard work paid off.

“I love rowing and to go to Australia knowing my results will get me into a great university when I get back is really rewarding.”