CHOIRMASTER Chris Totney played 620 hymns in just over eight hours to raise money to help send a group of singers on a trip of a lifetime.

Mr Totney, who is musical director of St John's Church, Devizes took on the hymnathon to help pay towards the £14,000 needed for the choir's tour of Latvia next year and hopes to have raised around £700.

He said: "Things started off pretty well, and when I managed to get through 80 hymns in the first hour. I thought we were going to manage it without too much trouble. But by about hour three, a number of the tunes became longer and less well known, so that slowed the progress down a bit and it was beginning to look like a long road ahead.

"However, thanks to some tremendous supporters who spurred me on by singing along and bringing me cups of coffee from time to time, we managed to get the job done in the end.

"The last hour was especially challenging, not just because we had already been going for seven hours, but also because that was the most complex part of the book, with some very long and rarely-sung music which is normally reserved for a particular day in the church year.

"Although it took its toll on my shoulder blades, it was a wonderful feeling to reach the end. It was a real team effort. A schoolteacher even came in and did an hour’s worth of marking while I was in mid-flow."

The tour fundraising will be officially launched on December 16 with a Christmas concert with mulled wine and mince pies at St John's, followed by carol singing in The Brittox from 11am-2pm.