The Friends of St James the Great, Thorley

Chairman's Report to the

Annual General Meeting

held on Friday, 10 March 2017

Good evening and thank you all for coming to the 2017 Annual General Meeting of the Friends of St James the Great, Thorley.

The Committee has worked hard on behalf of us all over the past year, and I am sure you would like me to pass on your thanks to them.

During the course of the year we were sad to learn of the deaths of two of our long standing members, Barbara Lewis and Bob Williams. Bob and his wife Brenda, who died in 2015, organised Whist Drives for many years, the profits from which they kindly donated to the Friends.

At last year's Annual General Meeting I was pleased to report that the Friends were poised to make a grant to the Parochial Church Council to fully fund the new Church lighting that had then just been installed. This year I am similarly pleased to report that we are about to make a grant to cover the full cost of the redecoration of the interior of the Church, which, I am delighted to report, was completed just a few days' ago. Following the discussion at last year's Annual General Meeting, and with the agreement of the Parochial Church Council, we turned our attention during the course of the past year to raising funds to improve our Church heating. Following advice from the Diocesan Heating Advisor, the Parochial Church Council is now investigating a scheme based on the existing boiler that will employ far more efficient radiators to enable the system to be programmed to reach the temperature required for services in a timely manner from a lower level at which the Church will be maintained throughout the rest of the week. Although the likely cost of such an upgrade to the Church heating is not yet known, the Friends are already in the position of having a significant sum available for this work as a result of another very successful year of fundraising. I will leave it to Rosemary to say more in this respect in her Treasurer's report, but hopefully it means that we will not have to wait too much longer to see, or rather feel, a much needed improvement in our Church heating.

Our main fundraising event during the last year was, as usual, our annual Festival of Flowers and Music held over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Visitors to the 2016 Festival were able to view flower arrangements on the theme of Show Time. They were also treated to a number of musical moments and group singing throughout the Festival. Together with a Craft Fair on all three days of the Festival, a Mini Fete on the Monday, and a chance for visitors to sit and chat over refreshments, the Festival was once again a great success, both as a significant outreach opportunity and also financially, as you will hear from Rosemary in her report.

The Friends 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. Most recently we held another very successful and most enjoyable Quiz Evening in February of this year. A particularly big thank you is due to Pam and Steve Robertson for once again setting the questions for the Quiz and overseeing the marking, and to Mike Trippick for his sterling performance as Quiz Master. As usual, a great time was had by all.

The Friends would like to be able to offer Sunday Afternoon Teas from the Church Room during the months of May, June, July, August and September this year. However, this will only be possible if volunteers are forthcoming who are prepared to organise rotas for segments of this season, together with those willing to sign-up for the individual weekly slots in these rotas. Please let me or any of the other Committee members know if you are able to help in either way.

The Friends' website continued to attract attention during the course of the past year. It was pleasing to receive an email in January of this year from a couple who had recently bought an oil painting of Mary Horsley, the wife of the Revd John Horsley who was Rector of St James the Great from 1745 to 1777. On surfing the web in an attempt to find out more about Mary, they had come across our website and had been surprised to see a photograph of a very similar painting to the one they had purchased that was donated to St James some four years' ago and which now hangs in the Church vestry. Towards the end of last year we were also contacted by members of Great Chishill District Church Council to say how much they had enjoyed learning about our Church through the Friends' website. Their church of St Swithun was recently awarded a grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the cost of repairs to the Church tower. They had been impressed by our website and the history it contained and thought it was the sort of thing they would like to put together as part of an associated project to provide a better interpretation of the history and heritage of their Church for visitors. As they were keen to receive some help in getting this project started, Bill Hardy kindly agreed to meet with them at St James, before going on to St Swithun's to view their Church and see first-hand the scale of the restoration challenges they are facing.

Staying with the history theme, once the necessary business of this Annual General Meeting has been completed, Bill Hardy will be giving a short presentation entitled 'The Bishop's Stortford Workhouse'. Our evening will then conclude with a bring-and-share finger buffet and drinks.

I will end my Report by thanking Margaret, our Vice Chairman and Rosemary, our Treasurer, 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 her Treasurer's report.

Thank you very much.

Philip Hargrave

10 March 2017

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