The Friends of St James the Great, Thorley


Report by the Secretary to the Annual Parochial Church Meeting, 13 April 2008

The Friends were pleased to be able to make a grant of 30,000 during the past year in support of the restoration work on the tower that was completed just before Easter 2007. That grant brought the total spent by the Friends' on the Church and Churchyard since the Association's foundation in 1983 to just over 100,000. We have also raised and committed a further 6,500 towards the planned re-decoration of the Church, and 14,000 in support of our latest project, that of financing the replacement of our Church organ. Whilst still operational, our organ's chequered history means that there are serious shortcomings in both its functionality and its ability to cope with the tonal and dynamic variation so much associated with even a relatively 'basic' organ.

The Friends' key outreach and fundraising since the 2007Annual Parochial Church Meeting have been the provision of Sunday afternoon teas in the Church Room from the first Sunday in May until the end of September, the Festival of Flowers and Music over the August Bank Holiday weekend and the Quiz Evening in October kindly hosted by John Loadman.

The theme for the 2007 Festival was 'Countries of the World'. Many of the countries chosen by the flower arrangers were selected for very personal reasons. As well as these arrangements, visitors were also able to enjoy music that was representative of many different parts of the world, and to offer a prayer and place a pin in a country of their choice on a map on the altar. A new addition to the Festival programme was the provision of a range of Children's activities on the Monday afternoon. The Festival once again proved to be very successful, both from the point of view of the number of visitors attending and the money raised. The latter amounted to some 4,500, a substantial increase on that of 4055 for the 2006 Festival.

We were very grateful to Bob and Brenda Williams for continuing to organise regular Whist Drives throughout the year, the profits from which they kindly donated to the Friends.

During the year the Friends' website continued to attract considerable interest. Encouraged by the usefulness of the 'Database of Churchyard Memorials' that was first published on our website in 2002, three volunteers transcribed a number of our Parish baptism, marriage and burial registers into electronic format. Nigel Rixson recorded details of all baptisms from 1751 up to 1960, and all marriages between 1754 and 1961. Maureen Hargrave transcribed the burials from 1813 until 1925, and Des Conridge those from 1925 until 1992. These electronic transcriptions were first made available to visitors to the 2007 Festival of Flowers and Music, and subsequently published on our website.

If you are not already a member of the Friends, why not join. The minimum family subscription is only 5.00. By joining you will be directly helping to preserve our ancient and beautiful Church building and maintain our Churchyard.

Philip Hargrave

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