The Friends of St James the Great, Thorley

Chairman's Report to the

Annual General Meeting

held on Friday, 8 March 2013

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

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

As you are no doubt aware, a programme of restoration, including work on a number of the Church windows, is now well underway at St James, and is scheduled for completion by the end of April. I was delighted to be able to report at last year's Annual General Meeting that the Friends had by then succeeded in raising the 18,500 then estimated as being required to undertake this work. This marked the completion of another significant fundraising project for the Friends, and followed closely on from our grant of just over 30,000 to the Parochial Church Council that had enabled the purchase a new Church organ in 2010, just three years after the launch of that particular campaign back in 2007.

Following the discussion at last year's Annual General Meeting, the Committee agreed that our next fundraising priority would be to enable the purchase and installation of new Church lighting, once we had sufficient funds to replace the Chancel and Sanctuary carpets, as had been requested by the Rector, given the particularly poor state of that in the Sanctuary. Thanks to a generous donation, new carpets were laid in time for the 2012 Festival of Flowers and Music, and the opportunity of this was taken to publicly announce that our fundraising objective was now firmly in respect of new Church lighting.

Unfortunately, the Parochial Church Council subsequently ascertained that the current restoration work would cost more than they had previously estimated, and also incurred significant unbudgeted architect's fees relating to this and other work that they were considering. The Friends' Committee therefore agreed in January of this year to make an additional grant of 4,400 from the Friends' uncommitted funds to cover these extra costs.

I'm nevertheless pleased to report that, despite the need to make this additional grant, the Friends now have some 6,500 available towards new lighting, primarily as a result of the financial success of the 2012 Festival of Flowers and Music. We await final confirmation as to what the total cost of the project will be, but it is expected to be close to 17,000, unless there is a need for rewiring, in which case it is likely to be around 23,000.

Turning to our events over the past year,visitors to that 2012 Festival of Flowers and Music were able to view flower arrangements portraying The Season's of the Year. They were also treated to performances by the St James Music Fellowship and a number of other musical moments, and there was an opportunity each day to receive prayer for healing. On the Sunday evening there was a Festival Evensong, at which some of the Festival volunteers each selected a favourite Hymn, and outlined the reasons for their choice. Together with the Craft Fair on all three days of the Festival, the Mini Fete on the Monday, and a chance for visitors to sit and chat over refreshments, the Festival was once again a success, both as a significant outreach opportunity and also from a fundraising point of view. I will leave the latter to Rosemary to address in her Treasurer's report.

Our other fund raising activities during the course of the past year were a sale of plants in May, an Autumn Craft Fair in November, and our sale of Sunday afternoon teas from the Church Room during the summer months. We decided to reschedule our annual Quiz Evening so as to space our events more evenly throughout the year. So, rather than being held in October of last year, our most recent and highly enjoyable Quiz Evening was delayed until February of this year. A particularly big thank you is due to Pam and Steve Robinson for once again setting the questions for the Quiz Evening and overseeing the marking, and to Rob Wynford-Harris for his sterling performance as Quiz Master. A great time was had by all.

The Friends were very grateful to my wife, Maureen, for once again extending the summer season of Sunday afternoon teas and reverting to the serving of soup and roll lunches over the winter months, to raise additional funds and to maintain fellowship and outreach from the Church Room throughout the year. We were similarly grateful to Bob and Brenda Williams for continuing to organise regular Whist Drives, the profits from which they kindly donated to the Friends.

The Friends Committee will be taking over responsibility for Sunday Afternoon teas with effect from the start of May. We desperately need volunteers to come forward to enable that, particularly at this stage during the month of May itself. A rota will be on display during the bring-and-share supper immediately following this Annual General Meeting. Please take a look, and sign up for any of the Sundays you are able to help. If you haven't done it before, don't worry, training will be provided.

The Friends' website has continued to attract attention during the past year. I've personally had an extensive e-mail correspondence with a lady writing a thesis on The Genealogical value of Hatchments in some Kent Churches. Through her research into a hatchment in St George's Church in Deal attributed to Montagu Pennington, we've learnt a lot more about his brother Thomas, who was the Rector of Thorley from 1798 to 1852, and his family. You will now find a biography of Thomas on the Friends' website, along with those of all the other Rectors of Thorley up to the end of the second world that I reported as new additions to the site at last year's Annual General Meeting. Another addition to the website over the past year has been a transcription of a letter from William Cleghorn, Professor of Moral Philosophy at what was then the College of Edinburgh and is now the University of Edinburgh, describing a visit to the Rectory in 1750 during the incumbency of John Horsley, who was Rector of Thorley from 1745 until 1777. If you haven't already seen it, take a look. It gives a truly fascinating glimpse into family life at Thorley Rectory some 260 years ago.

I cannot conclude my report this year without noting that 2013 is a significant anniversary year for the Friends. It was on 21 February 1983 that a small Committee first met under the Chairmanship of Compton Whitworth, with Ann Cottee, John Fuller, David Philpott, Daphne Ruddock and Jim Simpson as the other founding Committee members. They adopted a constitution that had been drawn up by the then Rector, Alan Cole, based on that of the Friends of St Michael's, Bishop's Stortford. At a second Committee meeting, on 18 April 1983, they set as their initial aim the raising of 10,000 to undertake repairs to the Church and Churchyard wall. Letters were then sent out to potential members and an open meeting was held at the Church on Sunday 15 May 1983 to publicise the aims of the newly formed Association. By the time of the first Annual General Meeting, on 18 March 1984, the Chairman was able to report the successful registration of the Friends as a charity. At that meeting a minor modification was made to the constitution, as had been requested by the Charity Commissioners, resulting in the document the Committee and members have worked to ever since.

Over the years the Friends have enabled numerous projects to be undertaken. These have included the construction of a new north wall for the Churchyard, the restoration of our font, the provision of a new kissing gate, the restoration of stained glass windows, the installation of lightning protection and a new weather vane, and the restoration of our picturesque Lych Gate. In 2001 the Friends made a grant of 25,000 to the Parochial Church Council, followed by a further grant of 30,000 in 2007, to enable restoration work on the tower, and in 2008 one of 6,500 in support of the re-rendering and redecoration of the exterior of the Church. This was followed by the previously mentioned grant of just over 30,000 to enable the purchase of the new Church organ that was installed in 2010. Over the years, the Friends have raised in excess of 180,000, some 117,000 of this since the start of the new millennium.

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.

Thank you.

Philip Hargrave
8 March 2013

Return to Reports