The Friends of St James the Great, Thorley

Chairman's Report to the

Annual General Meeting

held on Friday, 13 March 2009

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.

The Friends were pleased to be able to make a grant of 6,500 during the past year to the Parochial Church Council, in support of the re-rendering and redecoration of the exterior of the Church that is now well underway. We have also now raised and committed a total of 22,000 towards our latest project, that of financing the replacement of our Church organ. This is 8,000 more than at this time last year. As most of you will know, 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' and is in need of replacement.

The Friends' outreach and fundraising activities since the 2008 Annual General Meeting have included two new events in addition to our usual programme of Sunday afternoon teas in the Church Room, the Festival of Flowers and Music over the August Bank Holiday weekend and the Quiz Evening in October. The first was a sale of plants in May, to which we invited gardeners to donate those 'surplus' to their requirements and come to purchase what they lacked. The second was a Craft Fair that was held in the St Barnabas Centre in early November. Both were very successful, and we have therefore decided to repeat them again this year. This year's plant sale will be held on the afternoon of Sunday 10 May, and there will be an Autumn Craft Fair on Saturday 21 November.

The theme for the 2008 Festival was 'Great Composers - Chosen Excerpts'. As well as viewing the flower arrangements, visitors were also able to enjoy anthems and hymns representative of a number of great composers, together with instrumental and vocal solos and duets. On the Sunday there was a Festival Songs of Praise, for which some of the Festival volunteers selected their favourite hymns and outlined the reasons for their choices. A new innovation for 2008 was a very enjoyable barbecue on the Saturday evening. The Festival once again proved to be very successful, both from the point of view of the number of visitors and the money raised. The latter amounted to just under 5,000, a substantial increase on the 4,500 raised by the 2007 Festival, which was itself a marked increase on that of 4,055 for the 2006 Festival. Rosemary will give you some more detail in fer report. The theme for this year's Festival will be 'Favourite Poems'.

We were grateful to Bob and Brenda Williams for continuing to organise regular Whist Drives throughout the year, the profits from which they kindly donated to the Friends. We were also grateful to my wife, Maureen, for similarly donating the profits from her extension of the Friends' season of Sunday afternoon teas, followed by the serving of soup-and-roll lunches over the winter months so as to maintain Sunday fellowship and outreach from the Church Room throughout the year.

A major addition to the Friends' website during the past year has been a transcription of the notebook containing short accounts of the First World War service of the men of Thorley that was compiled by Revd John Procter, Rector of Thorley from 1909 to 1938. Scanned versions of photographs of approximately half of these men were also matched with and included alongside the notebook entries. During the year the site has continued to attract considerable interest. As a direct result of Bill Hardy's 'From the Archives' articles on the website we have also been in e-mail correspondence with a historian in France who is writing a biography of General Robert Georges Nivelle. He was the great grandson of Thomas Pennington, Rector of Thorley from 1798 until his death in 1852, and was briefly commander-in-chief of the French forces during the First World War.

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
13 March 2009

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