The Friends of St James the Great, Thorley

Chairman's Report to the

Annual General Meeting

held on Friday, 9 March 2018

Good evening and thank you all for coming to the 2018 Annual General Meeting of the Friends of St James the Great, Thorley.

During the course of the past year we were sad to learn of the deaths of three of our long standing members, Roy Roberts, Audrey Hutchinson and Eileen Bangert.

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 cover the full cost of the redecoration of the interior of the Church, which had then just been completed. Following the discussion at our 2016 Annual General Meeting, and with the agreement of the Parochial Church Council, we had by last year's Annual General Meeting turned our attention to raising funds to improve our Church heating. By the middle of 2017 the Friends had raised what was believed to be sufficient funds to cover the full cost of the upgrade that had been suggested to the Parochial Church Council by the Diocesan Heating Advisor. That is one based on the existing boiler, but employing more efficient radiators to enable the system to be programmed to reach the temperature required for services and other activities in a timely manner from a lower level at which the Church would be maintained throughout the rest of the week. At the request of the Parochial Church Council, we then turned our attention to raising funds for a range of new projects. These were to create a path border for a new Garden of Remembrance in the Churchyard, as the current one is nearing capacity; to undertake work that had been identified in the last Quinquennial Report as being required on the north walls of the nave, vestry and chancel, and on the south porch; and to provide a new floor covering for the Church Room. Many of you will have noticed that the stonework border for the new Garden of Remembrance adjacent to the Church Room is already in place, as is a laminate flooring in the Church Room.

The Parochial Church Council received two responses to its Request for Tenders for the proposed upgrade to the Church heating, both of which came in under the figure we had set aside for the work. Hopefully the upgrade will be undertaken well before the onset of next winter, so that we can then benefit from the long-awaited and much-needed improvement in 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 2017 Festival were able to view flower arrangements on the theme of Rainbow Rhapsody. 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 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. I will leave it to Rosemary to go in to further detail in her Treasurer's 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 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.

During the past year, our small team of dedicated helpers has continued to ensure that our beautiful Churchyard, comprising a whole acre of grass, paths, hedges and trees, has remained in good condition. The Friends purchase and donate to the Parochial Church Council, with whom the ultimate responsibility for the maintenance of the Churchyard resides, all the equipment that is used in undertaking this important task. The Friends also fund the cost of the yearly maintenance of that equipment. Last year proved a particularly difficult one from a maintenance point of view given the excessive growth of the grass. We would welcome more volunteers to help look after this wonderful asset going forward. There are a variety of jobs, ranging from mowing and strimming to pruning and sweeping - truly something for everyone. If you can spare an hour or two per month to help in this way, please contact Margaret and Peter Morley who will be delighted to hear from you.

The Friends would like to once again 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.

During the course of the past year it has become clear that significant sums will soon be required to undertake work in areas of the St James' estate that fall outside the remit of the Friends to support. The Committee therefore agreed that the Friends should step aside from organising a Festival of Flowers and Music and associated Craft Fair over the 2018 August Bank Holiday weekend to enable the Parochial Church Council to use the extended weekend this year for fundraising in support of other parts of the St James' estate. Please watch out for announcements by the Parochial Church Council as to its plans for the three days. I know an offer as been made to head-up a team of flower arrangers so that these can once again include a Flower Festival, but the final decision rests with the Parochial Church Council.

Once the necessary business of this Annual General Meeting has been completed, Bill Hardy will be giving a short presentation entitled 'The Carpenters' Marks in King's College Chapel, Cambridge'. Our evening will then conclude with a bring-and-share finger buffet and drinks.

I will draw my report to a close 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.

That said, I cannot end my report this year without paying a very special tribute to two of our long standing Committee members who have decided not to seek re-election to, or co-option on, the incoming Committee. Looking back through the Friends' records, I find that both Christine Tew and Lesley Parker initially joined the Committee as Parochial Church Council Representatives in 2006, Christine with effect from 1 January and Lesley from 17 July of that year. Both continued as members of the Committee when they ceased to be a Parochial Church Council Representative.

Christine and Lesley have given sterling service to the Friends over the years, Christine particularly in respect of heading up the team of flower arrangers during or Festivals of Flowers and Music, and Lesley in respect of the organisation of our annual spring Plant Sale and Autumn Craft Fair. I would like to say a big thank you to them both on behalf of all the other current Committee members, and indeed all the members of the Friends, for everything that they have done and ask them both to accept a small token of our thanks.

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

9 March 2018

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