The Friends of St James the Great, Thorley


Report by the Secretary to the Annual Parochial Church Meeting, 14 March 2004

The Friends' key social and fund-raising events during 2003 were the provision of Sunday afternoon teas in the Church Room from the first Sunday after Easter until the end of British Summer Time in October, the Festival of Flowers and Music over the August Bank Holiday Weekend and the Quiz Evening in November. Following their much-appreciated contribution in 2002, 'Jubilate and Friends' very generously donated one-half of the money raised by 'Concert in the Church 2' towards the work of the Friends.

The theme for the 2003 Festival was 'Relationships - To Know Christ And To Make Him Known'. In addition to the many popular attractions of recent years, Peter Cooper offered photographic portrait sessions. These proved to be extremely popular and were a key reason for the Festival being the most financially successful to date. The total amount raised by the 2003 Festival, which had as its objective the funding of the restoration of the Lychgate, was just over 4000.

On the Sunday evening of the Festival Bob led a service in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the Friends. As we now enter our twenty second year, the total money raised by the Association since its foundation approaches the 90,000 mark. Over the years some 70,000 has been spent on numerous Church and Churchyard projects. In addition to the money earmarked for the restoration of the Lychgate, a further 12,000 has been committed to the Parochial Church Council for the final phase of work to complete the restoration of the Tower.

The Committee continues to be indebted to Max Streets and his small team of helpers for ensuring the orderly appearance of the Churchyard.

During the past year the Friends' Website has continued to attract considerable attention. It can be accessed at Following the contact by parishioners in Great Gidding seeking help in the formation of their very own Friends that was reported last year, we received many complimentary e-mails during 2003. These ranged from the man engaged in a one-name study who was delighted to find the final resting place of a relative who had died of a heart attack whilst on holiday in Devon in the early 1980s, through the former resident who was surprised to find himself mentioned as one of the first Thorley Queen's Scouts in the mid 1960s and the man who used the date of death of a relative in the opening years of the twentieth century to discover that he had met his untimely demise by falling over the stair rail at the Charing Cross Hotel, to the correspondent in Canada who was amazed to read a letter written in the first half of the nineteenth century by his great-grandmother four generations back. Why not take a look at the Website yourself. You'll find the Church Guide, descriptions of the stained glass windows, photographic records of past Festivals, the many articles by Bill Hardy that form the From the Archives section, the complete database of more than 750 Churchyard monumental inscriptions and much more.

This year the Friends' Annual General Meeting will be held on Friday, 19th March in the Emmaus Centre, commencing at 7.30 pm. If you are not already a member why not join the Friends. The minimum family subscription is only 5.00 and by joining you will be directly helping to preserve our ancient and beautiful Church building.

Philip Hargrave

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