The Friends of St James the Great, Thorley

Chairman's Report to the

Annual General Meeting

held on Friday, 8 March 2019

Good evening and thank you all for coming to the 2019 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 death of two of our long standing members who also served as a member of the Friends' Committee, Lesley Parker and Margot Cage.

Lesley initially joined the Committee as a Parochial Church Council Representative in 2006. She was at the time a Deanery Synod Representative for the Parochial Church Council. After standing down from that role and also as a serving member of the Parochial Church Council, she stood for election to the Friends' Committee in her own right in 2011. She then continued as a member of the Committee until last year's Annual General Meeting, when she stood down for reasons of ill health. Lesley gave sterling service to the Friends over the twelve years she served on the Committee, particularly in respect of the organisation of our annual spring Plant Sale and Autumn Craft Fair.

Margot Cage served as a member of the Friends Committee for thirty years. I had to go back to the pre-digital records of the Friends to the paper minutes of the Friends 1989 Annual General Meeting held on 31st March of that year to find reference to her as having just been appointed to the Committee as one of the two Parochial Church Council representatives. In fact, the first reference to her in the Friends' papers is that she sent her apologies to the 1987 Annual General Meeting, only the fourth to be held after the formation of the Friends in 1983. On standing down as one of the Parochial Church Council Committee representatives, she was co-opted on to the Committee in her own right in April 1991 and continued to serve as member from that date until her death at the end of February this year.

At last year's Annual General Meeting I was pleased to report that the Friends had raised what was believed to be sufficient funds to cover the full cost of the upgrade to the Church heating that had been suggested to the Parochial Church Council by the Diocesan Heating Advisor. That was 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. As many of you are no doubt aware, the work to implement the upgrade was undertaken at the start of this year. The total cost of the work was 10,355 exclusive of VAT, well within the amount the Friends had set aside for the project. We were therefore delighted to make a grant for this amount to the Parochial Church Council, the VAT element of the cost being reclaimable by them through the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme. We anticipate that our next grant will be to fund the work that was identified in the last Quinquennial Report as being required on the north walls of the nave, vestry and chancel, and on the south porch.

Our main fundraising event during the last 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' Grass Cutting Team continued to maintain the Churchyard throughout last year's growing season from March through to December. As the number of volunteers undertaking this important task has diminished somewhat, we were very grateful to all those who came to help. The Churchyard Machines were all recently serviced in readiness for the new season and the Friends have also purchased a new mower. If you can spare an hour or two per month to help with Churchyard maintenance 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.

As I reported last year, it had by then become clear that significant sums were 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 for fundraising in support of other parts of the St James' estate. The Parochial Church Council decided to hold a Festival of a similar format to that organised by the Friends in recent years. Following the success of this event, and the continuing requirement for funds for areas of the St James' estate outside the remit of the Friends, the Committee agreed at its meeting in October of last year that it should once again step aside from organising a Festival in 2019 should the Parochial Church Council wished to do so. The Parochial Church Council has taken up this offer and has already formed an organising committee which held its first meeting towards the end of January.

I will now 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. On behalf of the Committee and myself I would also like to thank you for the support you have given us.

I would normally hand over to Rosemary at this point, but unfortunately she cannot be with us this evening as she has broken her ankle. It will therefore fall to me to deliver the Treasurer's report on her behalf. However, before doing so I want to pay very special thank-you to Rosemary who is standing down as Treasurer and will not be offering herself for consideration as a member of the incoming Committee. This has nothing to do with her broken ankle, but was a decision she came to over a year ago.

Rosemary was first elected to the Friends Committee at the 2004 Annual General Meeting. Adrian Phillips, the Treasurer at the time, had indicated that he wished to stand down from that role and as a member of the Committee with effect from the 2005 Annual General Meeting. Rosemary stood for election at the 2004 Annual General Meeting with a view to shadowing Adrian during the course of the year and offering herself for the role of Treasurer after the 2005 Annual General Meeting. Rosemary did indeed take on the position of Treasurer after that latter meeting and has given fourteen years of sterling service in that role. As well as publically thanking her for all she has done for the Friends, it was also my intention that I should present her with a small token of thanks at this meeting, something that will unfortunately now have to await another occasion.

If there are no questions in respect of my report, I will now deliver the Treasurer's report on Rosemary's behalf.

Thank you very much.

Philip Hargrave

8 March 2019

Return to Reports