The Friends of St James the Great, Thorley

Chairman's Report to the

Annual General Meeting

held on Friday, 18 March 2005


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

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

During the year we were sad to learn of the deaths of three of our longstanding members, Cecil Hanscomb, Joan Camp and Netta Philpott. Letters of condolence were sent to their respective families on behalf of the Committee and members.

Today one of our strongest supporters, in fact a founding Committee member and the first Secretary of the Friends of St James, is moving away from the area, using that as her 'excuse' for sending her apologies, and that of her husband, for not attending tonight's Annual General Meeting. I couldn't let the occasion pass without paying tribute to Ann Cottee for all she has done for the Friends of St James, and also to her husband Peter, the founder of our ever popular Quiz evening and its host for many years. Although they are moving away, Peter and Ann will be continuing as members.

The 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. Adrian will give full details of the financial aspects of these events in his report.

We continued to be indebted to Max Streets and his small team of helpers for ensuring the orderly appearance of the Churchyard. After performing that task for over ten years, Max has decided to step down. I will be conveying a massive 'thank you' to Max for undertaking that task for so long, with what has often been a very small team of helpers. The challenge now, of course, is to find another willing volunteer to carry on the good work.

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.

At our 2003 Annual General Meeting we had a short discussion on how to make the Annual Festival of Flowers and Music even more successful, particularly from the point of increasing its fundraising potential. A number of valuable suggestions were tabled, some of which were taken-up for the 2003 Festival and others of which were deferred for future consideration. At last year's Annual general Meeting we had a much fuller debate on this subject. As a result our 2004 Festival of Flowers and Music featured a number of innovations.

The major new event 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 also 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 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. 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, kindly hosted by John Loadman, 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. Those of you who attended last Sunday's Annual Parochial Church Meeting will have heard that the Parochial Church Council intend this work to be completed before the end of 2006, as part of a package of high priority items detailed in the recent Quinquennial report.

I would like to end my Report 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. In Adrian's case, however, it's a rather extra special 'thank you'. Adrian joined the Committee of the Friends of St James, and took over the office of Treasurer, on 21 May 1990, almost fifteen years ago. He indicated to the Committee just prior to last year's Annual General Meeting that, although he was happy to continue in the role of Treasurer for a further year, he would like to relinquish that position at this year's Annual General Meeting. So this is Adrian's last Annual General Meeting as Treasurer. As he is not offering himself for re-election, this is also his last day as a member of the Committee. However, you will be delighted to hear he has indicated that he might be persuaded to stand again to be an ordinary Committee member after a suitable break. Adrian, on behalf of myself, the Committee and, indeed, all the members, I would like to say a very big 'thank you'. Please accept this Garden Voucher as a token of our appreciation for your hard work and commitment as Treasurer to the Friends over so many years. Adrian!

Unless there are any questions at this stage, I would now like to hand over to Adrian for his very last Treasurer's report.

Thank you.

Philip Hargrave
18 March 2005

Return to Reports