The Friends of St James the Great, Thorley

Chairman's Report to the

Annual General Meeting

held on Friday,7 March 2008

Thank you all for coming this evening and for your support throughout the year.

The Committee has worked hard on our behalf and I am sure you would like me to pass on your thanks to them.

This time last year the second phase of restoration work on the tower was well underway, and was to be completed just before Easter. Following on from the grant of 25,000 made by the Friends to the Parochial Church Council in 2001 in support of the first phase of work, we were pleased to be able to make a further grant of 30,000 during 2007 in support of this second phase. That grant brought the total spent by the Friends', since its foundation in 1983, on the Church and Churchyard to just over 100,000. We have also raised and committed a further 6,500 towards the planned re-decoration of both the exterior and interior of the Church, and have made a good start in respect of our latest fund raising project, about which I will say a little more later.

The Friends' key outreach and fundraising events during 2007 were the provision of Sunday afternoon teas in the Church Room from the first Sunday in May until the end of September, the Festival of Flowers and Music over the August Bank Holiday weekend and the Quiz Evening in October. In addition to these regular fundraising activities, we have two additional events in our calendar this year. The first is a sale of plants on Sunday 11th May, to which we invite gardeners to donate those 'surplus' to their requirements, and come to purchase what they lack. The second is a Pre Christmas Craft Fair, to be held in the St Barnabas Centre on Saturday 8 November.

The theme for the 2007 Festival was 'Countries of the World'. It had as its financial objective that of supporting our latest project, the raising of funds to replace our Church organ. Whilst still operational, our organ's chequered history means that there are serious shortcomings in both its functionality and its ability to cope with the tonal and dynamic variation so much associated with even a relatively 'basic' organ. It has therefore been dubbed as 'The Mongrel'.

Many of the countries chosen by the flower arrangers for the 2007 Festival were selected for very personal reasons. As well as these arrangements, visitors were also able to enjoy music that was representative of many different parts of the world, and to offer a prayer and place a pin in a country of their choice on a map on the altar. A new addition to the regular Festival programme was the provision of a range of Children's activities on the Monday afternoon.

The Festival once again proved to be very successful, both from the point of view of the number of visitors attending and the money raised. The latter amounted to some 4,500, a substantial increase on that of 4055 for the 2006 Festival.

We were very grateful to Bob and Brenda Williams for continuing to organise regular Whist Drives throughout the year, the profits from which were kindly donated to the Friends.

The Friends final fundraising event of the year was another very enjoyable Quiz Evening in October, hosted by John Loadman.

As a result of all this fundraising, membership subscriptions and donations, our Church organ fund now stands at 13,000.

During the year the Friends' website at continued to attract considerable interest. Encouraged by the usefulness of the 'Database of Churchyard Memorials' that was compiled in 2001, and first published on our website in 2002, three volunteers transcribed a number of the Parish baptism, marriage and burial registers into electronic format. Nigel Rixson recorded details of all baptisms from 1751 up to 1960, and all marriages between 1754 and 1961. Maureen Hargrave transcribed the burials from 1813 until 1925, and Des Conridge those from 1925 until 1992. These electronic transcriptions were first made available to visitors to the 2007 Festival of Flowers and Music, and subsequently published on our website.

I would like to end my Report by thanking Rosemary, our Treasurer, and Margaret, our Vice Chairman and indeed all the members of the Committee, for their help and support during the past year. On behalf of the Committee, and myself I would also like to thank you for the support you have given us.

Unless there are any questions at this stage, I will now hand over to Rosemary for the Treasurer's report.

Philip Hargrave
7 March 2008

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