The Friends of St James the Great, Thorley

Chairman's Report to the

Annual General Meeting

held on Friday, 21March 2003

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

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

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the foundation of the Friends. A small Committee met on 21st February 1983, adopted a constitution based on that of the Friends of St Michael's, and the Friends of St James the Great, Thorley was born. By the time of the first Annual General Meeting on 18th March 1984, the Committee had initiated a programme of fund-raising events. Money raised by such events and income from membership subscriptions remain our primary sources of funds to this day.

Our key social and fund-raising events during 2002 were an illustrated talk by Bill Hardy in April entitled 'Fascinating Features of our Barn', the provision of Sunday afternoon teas in the Church Room from the first Sunday after Easter until the end of October, the Festival of Flowers and Music over the August Bank Holiday Weekend and a Quiz Evening in November. The theme of the 2002 Festival was "Abundant Life" - Jesus' Example, Our Response. In addition to the many popular attractions of recent years a 'Spinning Lady' joined us and generated much interest. Adrian will cover the financial aspects of all these events in his report.

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 year we were sad to learn of the death of Claude Mitchley. A letter of condolence was sent to his wife, Wynne.

Following Edward Miller's suggestion at last year's Annual General Meeting, the achievements of the Friends were brought to the attention of all the congregations and appeals were made for new members. By far the most successful of these appeals was that by Edward to the 8:00 am congregation, which resulted in 20 new memberships.

The year saw the total money raised by the Friends since the foundation of the Association pass the 82,000 mark. Over the years this money has been used to fund numerous projects agreed with the Parochial Church Council. These have ranged from a new kissing gate (400), through lightning protection and a new weather vane (2,100) and window restoration (7,600), to the 25,000 granted in 2001 towards the first phase of work to restore the tower. By the end of 2002 the Friends were able to commit a further 12,000 towards the next phase of this most important project.

The past year has seen significant additions to our website. Alongside the Church Guide, descriptions of the monuments and stained glass windows in the Church, records of past Festivals and the many articles by Bill Hardy that form From the Archives, you will now find a major new section. This is the complete database of more than 750 Churchyard monumental inscriptions recorded by over 50 volunteers during a project co-ordinated by Bill Hardy and Margaret Streets. The website has generated significant interest from those outside of our immediate Church family. Most recently we were contacted by parishioners in Great Gidding seeking our help in the formation of their very own Friends. The ensuing e-mail correspondence culminated in our Vice-Chairman, Margaret Morley, speaking on our experiences in Thorley at a public meeting held during January in Great Gidding. As a result they have decided that they will form a 'Friends of Great Gidding'.

I would like to end by thanking Adrian, our Treasurer, and Margaret, our Vice Chairman and indeed all the members of the Committee, for their help and support during the past year. On behalf of the Committee, and myself I would also like to thank you for the support you have given us.

Philip Hargrave
21 March 2003

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