The Friends of St James the Great, Thorley

Chairman's Report to the

Annual General Meeting

held on Friday, 23 March 2001


Thank you all for coming this evening and for your support throughout the year.

The Committee has worked hard on your behalf and I am sure you would like me to pass on your thanks to them.

We are very grateful to Max Streets for so efficiently organising the Churchyard clear-up sessions and, of course, to his team of supporters.  Although he has a small band of volunteers others would be very welcome to lighten the load.  We also recognise the significant continuing contribution made by Roy Griggs, both voluntarily and by formal arrangement with the PCC.  He has again been engaged on clearing the backlog in the Churchyard, particularly the overgrown vegetation round the boundary.

We have, for some time, been working on a “Form of Words” for notices in the Churchyard to enable the Friends to take a more active role in its management.  This is a delicate subject when it comes to such issues as appropriate floral tributes, the safety of “vases”, the placing of anything that could be used as a projectile, and the  removal of dead flowers and wreaths from gravesides.  An appropriate notice has now been agreed with the PCC and will be posted at three key locations in the Churchyard.  The Friends will then manage aspects of the Churchyard on behalf of the Rector and Churchwardens.

 Following concerns raised by Margaret Morley at last year’s AGM about the lack of a First Aid Kit and the insufficient provision of goggles, these items were purchased by the Friends and made available for the Churchyard Maintenance Team.

During the past year we were sad to learn of the deaths of Doug Miller and John Abbotson. Letters of condolence were sent to their relatives.

The provision of Sunday afternoon teas from after Easter until the end of October was again very popular, as was the Festival of Flowers and Music held over the August Bank Holiday Weekend.  Both the Festival and teas, as well as being important events from the point of view of fund raising, offered significant outreach opportunities.  The warm welcome visitors received resulted in many appreciative comments.  The Flower Festival, as well as all the usual popular activities and displays, included a Woodturner for the first time.  New access arrangements and refreshment queuing were an improvement on previous Festivals.  I would like to extend my thanks to all those who helped make these events so successful.

Our Quiz evening in November, hosted by John Loadman, was supported by teams from Holy Trinity in addition to those from St James.  Advanced arrangements for the Fish and Chips supper were efficiently organised by Sue Russell, and the meals went down very well.  Our thanks to John Loadman who took over as Quiz Master this last November.  The evening was very enjoyable, even though he gave us all credit for being more knowledgeable than we actually are.  He assures us that the questions will be slightly easier this year!

The financial results of all our fund raising activities can be seen in the accounts and will dealt with by Adrian later in the meeting.

The total money raised during 2000, when added to funds at our disposal at the start of the year, enabled us to increase to 25,000 the amount committed to the Parochial Church Council to support the restoration of the Tower. Last year we forecast the figure would rise to 22,000 by the time work started.  As you can see we have done even better than expected.  You will have noticed that work started earlier this month!

As reported last year, the Friends received a single Yew Tree, as part of the Yews for the Millennium initiative.  This was presented at an Evensong at St Albans Cathedral on 13 November 1999 to our Secretary.  Tim Fuller, has been looking after it until it is hardy enough to plant.  The Rector, and Friends, intend to arrange a planting ceremony in the Churchyard in the near future.

I will now turn to the proposal to re-order the pews at the west end of the Church to enable the area to be used for children’s work.  It had been  intended to create a “mock-up” of this proposal, but the PCC has reported to us that that the decision has now been taken not to proceed with the re-ordering. As you will probably all know, there are plans to accommodate the children’s work in a  “converted Dutch Barn”.

I would also point out that the Friends are now included in the new Welcome Pack.

Our Secretary advises me that the Friend’s Website is becoming very accessible – it being recognised by many of the major “search-engines”.

I started attending Friends’ Meetings as a PCC Representative on 29 April 1996, and following my permitted term in the PCC, became an elected  Committee member.  I have been Chairman for three years and headed up three Flower Festivals.  I now feel that I would like to get involved in other aspects of church life (and spend more time with my family as the politicians say!) and so I advised the committee earlier this year that I would not be standing for re-election to the Committee this year.

I would like to thank Philip and Adrian, and indeed all the members of the Committee, for their help and support during the past year.  I would also mention here that Edna Taylor was re-elected to the Committee last year but during the year tendered her resignation, although she is still ready and willing to offer her support whenever it is needed.

On behalf of the Committee and myself I would also like to thank you all for the support you have given us.  I am sure the new Chairman and Committee will be able to count on your continuing support in the coming year.


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