The Friends of St James the Great, Thorley

Chairman's Report to the

Annual General Meeting

held on Friday, 16 March 2012

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

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

During the course of the year we were sad to learn of the deaths of two of our longstanding members, Doris Collins and David Philpott. David was one of the founding Committee members of the Friends. He, along with Ann Cottee, John Fuller, Daphne Ruddock and Jim Simpson, who were the other original Committee members, met for the first time on 21 February 1983, thirty years ago next year, under the chairmanship of Compton Whitworth. The rest, as they say, is history.

As you may recall, it was agreed at our 2010 Annual General Meeting that the Friend's next fundraising project would be in respect of repairs to the stonework of a number of the Church windows, and the stained glass they contain, the need for which had been noted in the most recent quinquennial report. At last year's Friends' Annual General Meeting, Steve Poulter reported that the Parochial Church Council had investigated the work required and ascertained that the total cost would be some 18,500. At that time we only had 10,000 at our disposal for the project, but committed to raising the full amount, estimating that it was likely to take another year of fundraising to do so.

We were therefore delighted to be in a position to announce just before Christmas that we had had already raised the full 18,500 required. Clive Weir has kindly joined us this evening, and will be giving an update on where things stand in respect of this work. He will also be outlining other work that is in the pipeline from which we might like to select our next major fundraising project. For the interim, at the request of our Rector, Bob Payne, our fund raising is in respect of a new carpet for the Sanctuary.

One of the reasons that we met our fund raising target for the window restoration earlier than expected was the success of our 2011 Festival of Flowers and Music. I'll leave what was an extremely good financial outcome to Rosemary to present, but it was our best ever Festival in that respect. It was also a great success from an outreach perspective. Visitors were able to view flower arrangements portraying the Trades & Cries of Old London. 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 a selection of songs from Shows and the Music Hall, and their leading on the Monday of The Big Sing London Style, a selection of hymns with a London connection. A number of musical moments, with performances by individuals and small groups, were also featured throughout the Festival.

On the Sunday evening there was a Festival Evensong, at which some of the Festival volunteers each selected a favourite Hymn, and outlined the reasons for their choice.

Coupled with the Craft Fair, which was extended to all three days of the Festival for the first time, the Mini Fete on the Monday, and chance for visitors to sit and chat over refreshments, it was a great outreach success.

The other fund raising activities during the course of the year were a sale of plants in May, our ever popular Quiz Evening in October, an Autumn Craft Fair in November, and our sale of Sunday afternoon teas from the Church Room during the summer months. A particularly big thank you is due to Pam and Steve Robinson, who took over the reigns form John and Lina Loadman in setting the questions for the Quiz Evening and overseeing the marking, and to Rob Wynford-Harris for his sterling performance as Quiz Master. We've decided to reschedule the Quiz Evening going forward, to space our events more evenly over the year. So you'll have to sit tight and wait until March of next year for the next outing of our Quiz Evening.

The Friends Committee were also once again very grateful to my wife, Maureen, for 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 will be taking over responsibility for Sunday Afternoon teas with effect from the start of May. We desperately need volunteers to come forward enable that, particularly at this stage during the month of May itself.

The Friends' website has continued to attract considerable interest during the year. We have received a number of thank you e-mails, including one from a lady in Australia who exclaimed that she was overwhelmed and could not even begin to say how thrilled she was to find the site.

The most significant recent addition to the website has been short biographies of all the Rectors of Thorley, from the first recorded incumbent, William Vigerons, right through to the Rector who served during the latter years of the Second World War. Do visit the site and take a look if you have not recently done so. Read about the Pastor of Thorley who was threatened with decapitation during the Peasant's revolt of 1381; when during the reign of Henry VII Thorley had a Bishop for its Rector. Read about the Rector who was imprisoned during a visit to Rome and sent to the Galleys; and the Rector who openly defied Parliament, was ejected from the benefice, wounded during the Civil War, but richly rewarded at the Restoration for what the King described as his particular and eminent sufferings for Ourself and the Church. You can also Read about our most famous Rector of all, who was brought up in Thorley, where his father was Rector before him, who edited and published a complete edition of the works of Isaac Newton, and picked and won a theological fight with Joseph Priestly, that resulted in his elevation to the Bishopric, and him becoming a powerful reforming figure in the House of Lords. Not to mention the Rector who was a poet and a somewhat ineffectual headmaster of a famous public school, where the boys openly rebelled against him on three occasions. Some interesting individuals have served as the Rector of Thorley.

I would like to end my Report by thanking Rosemary, 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.

Unless there are any questions at this stage, I will now hand over to Rosemary for the Treasurer's report.

Thank you.

Philip Hargrave
16 March 2012

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