AS the preparations for the final classical concert at the Kirkleatham Almshouses are put in place it has been announced that the event organiser is to stand down from his role on the board of trustees.

The Classics at Kirkleatham series will take place later this month and the decision to end the events comes as Peter Sotheran retires after more than 22 years on the board.

Making the decision, he said: “Unfortunately none of the other trustees is able to continue running the concerts. Rising costs have also cast a cloud over the financial viability of the concerts. As a charity we are not allowed to subsidise the concerts and during the last twelve months it has been a struggle to break even.”

Sir William Turner's Almshouses have presented over 125 classical concerts since the series began in 1999. Artists have been drawn from across Europe, North and South America, the Far East and Australasia.

It has been quite remarkable and somewhat humbling that musicians who would normally perform in front of audiences numbered in thousands have been willing to play for an audience numbered in dozens at Kirkleatham,” said Mr Sotheran who has organised the concerts for the last 15 years.

The 'Classics at Kirkleatham' concert series has featured, pianists, guitarists, strings players and occasional evenings of opera.

"It's a chicken-and-egg situation. The audience loves those particular instruments so we have responded to their needs,'" added Mr Sotheran.

Performers have included pianist Viv MacLean who broadcasts regularly on Radio 3 and Classic FM. Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay is the principal pianist in the Presidential Philharmonic Orchestra in Turkey and has performed at Kirkleatham many times. During a recent UK tour Miss Onay flew back to Turkey to present a Chopin recital when her president entertained the president of Poland.

The roll-call of international musicians who have played at this historic venue in a 17th century chapel runs to over 100 names, from Latvian pianist Arta Arnicane to British mezzo-soprano Jeannette Wainwright.

The final concert on Wednesday, June 18 features Italian guitar virtuoso Giulio Tampalini and will be followed by a reception to celebrate the last fifteen years.

The remaining tickets, costing £15, are available from 01642-477200 with a credit card or to personal callers at G.Biz Computers in Marske; and Cook and Forth Estate Agents in Guisborough. The concert is expected to be a sell-out and tickets cannot be reserved to collect at the door.