THIS week I feel a daunting responsibility.

I’m trying to express the collective sorrow of hundreds of people who admired and loved David Coram, a brilliant yet unassuming musician and the gentlest, funniest kind of eccentric.

Tragedy is an overused word, but there’s no other to describe his death last week.

He’d endured the toughest of times in recent years, but I don’t think anyone realised how close to the edge he was.

David was our accompanist at Salisbury Community Choir. He also accompanied the St John Singers, and was director of music at St Peter’s Church, Hammersmith. He was a wonderful organist.

He was also a man of immense practicality and ingenuity, an organ restorer, a talented designer, a devotee of flowery shirts, an erratic timekeeper …… and a loving dad.

This column is also an expression of gratitude, for the inspiration our non-auditioned choir gained from performing alongside someone of his calibre, and for the sheer fun.

Sitting on the end of the back row altos, I used to watch the expressions flit across his face as he played – frowning in concentration, throwing out little asides that made the front row giggle, hammering extra hard on notes we always did wrong, just to keep us on track, going off on musical detours to lighten the mood if we were flagging, totally immersed in helping us to do better.

Our music director Jeremy Backhouse recalls: “I invited him along to a rehearsal. He was late! But when he sat down at the piano, pure musical magic flowed from his fingertips.”

It was the start of a 10-year double act. “Many was the time when he would emerge from a concert, tears welling in his eyes, proud as a peacock of what we, the SCC, had achieved together.”

There’s such camaraderie in our choir, and going on tour strengthens the bond.

But for David, encountering European church organs in various states of distress because nobody could afford to maintain them properly presented particular challenges.

Muttering about their missing bits and pieces, he nevertheless produced sounds from these wounded instruments that made me feel I was taking part in something special.

I’ll never forget Tuscany, and Elgar’s Nimrod – a piece with particular resonance for my family – filling the air. We singers stood stock still, as one must, but my heart was overwhelmed.

A friend recalls a Spanish tour, when the legs fell off a keyboard as David played. Calmly, he put it on his lap and accompanied the choir one-handed as he fixed it.

And the concert where the organ bellows weren’t working properly so he was losing notes. He roped in our tour guide who, hidden from view, pumped the bellows while he played.

There was the local concert when the piano’s top C didn’t work. “Anyone got an elastic band?” he enquired casually of the nearest sopranos. I don’t know what that achieved, but we got through it. And he could always find a way to play round dud keys.

So this is not so much an obituary as a lament. For all the amazing stuff he will never now do.

We have to be thankful for the good times.

RIP, David.