The Friends of St James the Great, Thorley

Chairman's Report to the

Annual General Meeting

held on Friday, 14 March 2014

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 four of our long-standing members, Ken Childs, Tony Hutchinson, Doreen Oakley and Margaret Stanford.

A programme of restoration work was well underway at St James at the time of last year's Annual General Meeting. As I reported at that meeting, the Friends had just committed a further 4,400 towards the project in addition to the 18,500 that we had been asked to raise back in 2011. This was because the Parochial Church Council had ascertained that the work was likely to cost more than had previously been estimated, and because the Council had also found it necessary to incur architect's fees that had not been included in the original budget. In the event, the Friends made a total grant of just under 24,000 to the Parochial Church Council. This covered the cost of the work undertaken in accordance with the original specification plus a significant number of other items that we also agreed to fund, including repairs to the Churchyard walls. Of this figure, just under 4,000 was by way of a loan to cover the cost of the VAT payable for the work, which the Parochial Church Council will be able to reclaim through the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme. The work is now essentially complete, apart from the fitting of protective grills to the last few Church windows.

At this time last year, the total we had raised in respect of our latest fundraising objective, the purchase and installation of new Church lighting, stood at just over 6,500. As a result of our activities over the past year, this figure has more than doubled to 15,500. Once the VAT loaned in respect of the latest restoration programme has been repaid, the Friends will have approximately 19,500 available for this and other projects to add to the over 125,000 we have spent since the start of the new millennium in support of our remit of assisting in maintaining and beautifying the Church and Churchyard.

Last year marked the 30th Anniversary of the Friends, a fact we were able to exploit to gain significant publicity in the local press in the run up to the 2013 Festival of Flowers and Music. Visitors to the Festival were able to view flower arrangements on the theme of The Celebration of Marriage. They were also treated to a number musical moments throughout the Festival and group singing on the Monday, and had an opportunity each day to receive prayer for healing. Together with the Craft Fair on all three days of the Festival, the Mini Fete on the Monday, and a chance for visitors to sit and chat over refreshments, the Festival was once again a great success, both as a significant outreach opportunity and financially. I will leave the latter to Rosemary to address in her Treasurer's report.

Our other fund raising activities during the course of the past year were a sale of plants in May, an Autumn Craft Fair in November, and our sale of Sunday afternoon teas from the Church Room during the summer months. Most recently we held another very successful Quiz Evening in February. A particularly big thank you is due to Pam and Steve Robinson for once again setting the questions for the Quiz Evening and overseeing the marking, and to Mike Trippick for his sterling performance as Quiz Master. A great time was had by all.

The Friends were very grateful to my wife, Maureen, for once again extending the summer season of Sunday afternoon teas until the end of October, and for restarting the 2014 season on the first Sunday of this month, and taking responsibility for the provision of teas during the months of March and April. We were also 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 Committee will be taking over responsibility for Sunday Afternoon teas with effect from the start of May. We desperately need volunteers to come forward to enable that, particularly at this stage during the month of May itself. A rota will be on display during the bring-and-share supper at the end of this Annual General Meeting. Please take a look, and sign up for any of the Sundays you are able to help. If you haven't done it before, don't worry, training will be provided.

The Friends' website continued to attract attention during the course of the year. Bill Hardy and I had a particularly interesting e-mail correspondence with Peter Bolt, the Head of the Department of New Testament and Greek at Moore Theological College in Newton, a suburb of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia. Having found the section of our site with biographies of all the Rectors of St James, from the first recorded incumbent, William dictus Vygorous de London who was presented to the benefice by Stephen de Gravesend, Bishop of London, on 20 March 1327, right up to those who served during the Second World War, he was interested in learning more about the descendants of John Horsley who was Rector of Thorley from 1745 until his death in 1777. Peter was writing a biography of Phillip Jensen, the Dean of St Andrew's, the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Sydney, and the brother of Peter Jensen, the former Archbishop of Sydney, who it turns out are descendants of John Horsley and his second wife Mary. We already knew that John Horsley had a number of famous decedents, including his son Samuel who also served as Rector of St James before being elevated to the Bishopric and becoming a powerful figure in the House of Lords, his grandson John Horsley Palmer who became Governor of the Bank of England, and his great grandson Roundell Palmer who was created first Earl of Selborne and twice served as Lord Chancellor. It was good to learn of famous names in today's generation of that family. Coincidentally, at that time Bill had only just been contacted by someone who had found a portrait of John Horsley's second wife, Mary, the grandmother of John Horlsey Palmer and great grandmother of Roundell Palmer, and had donated it to St James.

Recent additions to the Friends' website have included a journey through 900 years of changes in our Church's patronage, diocese and income. The site now also has biographies of a number of the Curates who served during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in addition to those of the Rectors, a number of the latter of which have been updated during the year as further information has come to hand.

Staying with the history theme, once the necessary business of this Annual General Meeting has been completed, Bill Hardy will be giving a short presentation entitled 'A Stroll down Thorley Lane in the Early 1900s'. Our evening will then conclude with a bring-and-share finger buffet and drinks.

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
14 March 2014

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