The Friends of St James the Great, Thorley


Report by the Secretary to the Annual Parochial Church Meeting, 10 April 2011

The highlight of the past year was the removal of the old Church organ and its replacement, on 6 May 2010, by a 37 Stop Two Manual Allan electronic organ. The old organ was affectionately known as 'the mongrel', because it had been brought together from a variety of sources and as a consequence had a number of unfortunate shortcomings. At a cost of just over 30,000, the installation of the new organ brought to an end the Friends' largest single fundraising project to date, three years after the project was launched in 2007.

The 2010 Festival of Flowers and Music provided an excellent opportunity for our Director of Music, Simon Dellow, to demonstrate the capabilities of our new organ. The theme for the 2010 Festival was 'Joy to the World'. Visitors were able to view flower arrangements portraying Joy in its various religious and secular forms. They were also treated to a session of group singing each day, with performances on the Saturday and Sunday by the St James Music Fellowship of the Cantata 'Jerusalem Joy', and the Fellowship's leading on the Monday of 'The Big Sing' of Hymns and Songs of Joy. A number of 'musical moments', with performances by individuals and small groups, were also featured throughout the Festival. On the Sunday the Festival was host to a Deanery Evensong, at which some of the Festival volunteers selected their favourite Hymns of Joy, and outlined the reasons for their choices. The Festival also marked the launch of the Friends' latest fundraising project, in support of the much needed restoration work on a number of the Church windows and the stained glass they contain.

A memento of the Festival, in the form of a DVD featuring photographs of all of the flower arrangements, accompanied by music played by Simon on the new organ, was produced and offered for sale. Copies are still available for purchase. The DVD gives a hint of the capabilities of the new organ, through renditions by Simon ranging from well known hymns in the style, as one would expect, of a church organ, to medleys expressing the Joy of family and friendships, colours and holidays in the very different style of a theatre organ.

The other fund raising activities during the year were a sale of plants in May, our ever popular Quiz Evening in October and an Autumn Craft Fair in November. A particularly big thank you is due to John Loadman who has decided to lay down the mantle of Quiz Master and make the 2010 Quiz Evening, the eleventh he had hosted with the able assistance of Lina, his last. Pam Robertson has kindly agreed to take over the reigns from John and set the questions for this year's Friends' Quiz Evening.

The Friends were grateful to Maureen Hargrave for once again extending the summer season of Sunday afternoon teas and reverting to the serving of soup and roll lunches over the winter months, to maintain fellowship and outreach from the Church Room throughout the year. We were similarly grateful to Bob and Brenda Williams for continuing to organise regular Whist Drives, the profits from which they kindly donated to the Friends.

The Friends' website has continued to attract interest. E-mails received from around the world included one from Canada expressing the Joy experienced on continually returning to the site, and finding something of interest not seen previously. The most recent addition to the site has been a new 'From the Archives' section entitled 'Thorley Postal History'. Compiled by Bill Hardy, it features a number of early twentieth century postcards written by Thorley residents. These provide a fascinating insight into Parish life at the time. Those who attended last months Friends Annual General Meeting were treated to an interesting presentation on the subject by Bill.

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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