The Friends of St James the Great, Thorley

Chairman's Report to the

Annual General Meeting

held on Friday, 12 March 2010

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 first payment of just over 10,000 to the Parochial Church Council in December, enabling an order to be placed and a deposit paid for our new Church organ. We will be paying the balance of just over 20,000 once the new 37 Stop Two Manual Allan electronic organ has been delivered and installed, hopefully within the next two months. This will bring to a close our latest fundraising project that was launched back in 2007. Following on from our major grants to the Parochial Church Council of 25,000 in 2001 and 30,000 in 2007, both in support of restoration work on the Tower, and a number of other smaller grants, this will bring the total contributed by the Friends in the first decade of the 21st century, in support of our remit of helping to maintain and beautify the Church and Churchyard, to a cool 100,000.

The theme for the 2009 Festival was 'Favourite Poems'. As well as viewing the flower arrangements, visitors were also able to enjoy musical settings of a number of the poems, together with other anthems and hymns, and 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 2009 was a DVD featuring photographs of all of the arrangements together with readings of the poems by which they were inspired. This was rapidly produced on the Saturday of the Festival, once the arrangements were in place and photographs of them could be taken to complement recordings of the poems that had been made on the Thursday and Friday. It was offered for sale to Festival visitors on subsequent days, and more generally throughout the rest of the year. There was once again a most enjoyable barbecue on the Saturday evening of the Festival. Overall the Festival proved to be very successful, both from the point of view of the number of visitors and the money raised, but I will leave details of its financial success to the report by our Treasurer, Rosemary.

The other fund raising activities during the course of the year were 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, our ever popular Quiz Evening in October and an Autumn Craft Fair in November. A CD of 'Christmas Music from St James the Great, Thorley', featuring the St James Music Fellowship with the 1st Thorley (St James) Scout Group Saxon Cub Pack, was produced in time to be sold at the Autumn Craft Fair, and during the subsequent run-up to Christmas. My wife, Maureen, kindly once again extended the season of Sunday Afternoon Teas, reverting to the serving of soup and roll lunches over the winter months, so as to maintain this important fundraising stream, and to provide Sunday fellowship and outreach from the Church Room throughout the year. The Committee were also grateful to Bob and Brenda Williams for continuing to organise regular Whist Drives, the profits from which they kindly donated to the Friends.

During the year the Friends' website continued to attract considerable interest. We received e-mails from individuals as far a field as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. All expressed their delight at being able to find details of their Thorley ancestors in our Database of Churchyard Monuments and Transcription of Parish Records.

I would like to draw my report to a close 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.

That said, I cannot end my report this year without paying a very special tribute to one of our long standing Committee members, who has decided not to seek re-election to or cooption onto the incoming Committee. Looking back through the Friends' records, I find that the minutes of the Annual General Meeting held some twenty years ago, on 29 March 1990, record that, when Compton Whitworth, the then Chairman, called for nominations for what would otherwise have been three unfilled positions on the Committee, I quote, "Joan Abbotson was proposed by Vera Camp. This proposal was seconded by Diana Ashwell and passed unanimously by the meeting". Joan has given sterling service to the Friends, particularly in an area that is dear to my heart, that of catering. Whenever food or refreshments have been called for, Joan has been ever present. Joan did take a short break from Committee membership, standing down at the 1998 Annual General Meeting at the time of the illness of her late and much missed husband, John, but was co-opted back onto the Committee in April 2003, and has served as one of its key members ever since. Joan I would like to say a big thank you on behalf of all the other current Committee members, and indeed all the members of the Friends, for everything that you have done over the years. Although you are standing down as a member of the Committee, I trust that we may, at least occasionally, still call upon your indispensable services.

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


Philip Hargrave
12 March 2010

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