The Friends of St James the Great, Thorley


Report by the Secretary to the Annual Parochial Church Meeting, 13 March 2005

The Friends' key social and fund-raising events during 2004 were the provision of Sunday afternoon teas in the Church Room from the first Sunday after Easter until the end of British Summer Time, the Festival of Flowers and Music over the August Bank Holiday weekend and the Quiz Evening in November. We continue to be indebted to Max Streets and his small team of helpers for ensuring the orderly appearance of the Churchyard.

The theme for the 2004 Festival was 'The Church's Year'. It had as its objective the funding of the re-decoration of the interior and exterior of the St James' Church building. The Festival raised over £3500 towards this worthy end. The money raised by the 2003 Festival had been earmarked for the restoration of the Lych Gate. It was pleasing to see that this work was well underway by the time of the 2004 Festival.

The major new event for the 2004 Festival was the Craft Fair held on the Sunday and Monday. Stalls offering dolls' furniture, Batik work, cards, pictures and other handmade items attracted many visitors. The Fair provided an excellent opportunity for some of our parishioners to show us what they can do. We also sought sponsorship for the Festival flower arrangements for the first time. Options ranged from making a donation towards the overall costs of the flowers to sponsorship of an entire arrangement. On the musical side, a new event in the programme was a 'Musical Mélange' with instrumentalists playing the organ, keyboard and euphonium interwoven with choral solos, duets and group singing. It was much appreciated, as was the organ music played at various times during the Festival and all the other musical activities in which the Choir, Jubilate and Music Group took part.

We took the opportunity of the Festival to make available a preliminary version of an update to the Churchyard database. The original has been on our website at since 2002 and records those burials that are marked by memorial stones or plaques. The new database will additionally include all unmarked graves for which there are known locations. Watch out for its launch on our website. Visitors to the Festival were able to access a preliminary version on a PC in the Church Room. All the burial records from 1813 to 1992 were also on display, providing those researching their family history with a unique opportunity to access information.

The Festival and Sunday afternoon teas, as well as being important events from the point of view of fundraising, also offered significant outreach opportunities. Our ever-popular Quiz Evening once again brought the Friends' fundraising year to a close in a most enjoyable manner.

The total money raised by the Association since its foundation is now approaching the £100,000 mark. In addition to the money earmarked for the re-decoration of the Church, 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.

This year the Friends' Annual General Meeting will be held on Friday, 18th March in the St Barnabas 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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