The Friends of St James the Great, Thorley

Chairman's Report to the

Annual General Meeting

held on Friday, 11 March 2016

Good evening and thank you all for coming to the 2016 Annual General Meeting of the Friends of St James the Great, Thorley.

The Committee has worked hard on all our behalves over the past year, 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 three of our long standing members, Edna Taylor, Brenda Williams and Betty Winter. As well as being a long standing member of the Friends, Edna also served as a member of the Committee, and hence as a Trustee of the Friends, for some six years from April 1994 to June 2000.

At last year's Annual General I was pleased to report that the total funds at the Friends' disposal had then reached a level that we judged sufficient to enable us to make a grant to the Parochial Church Council to cover the full cost of the design and installation of a new system of church lighting. After considering a number of options, the Parochial Church Council successfully applied for a faculty for the work associated with the selected design that was then installed and commissioned during February. The new system uses the latest LED technology and is fully programmable, enabling pre-set scenes to be configured appropriate to different forms of church service and events.

I will leave it to Rosemary, our Treasurer, to give you some detail as to where our finances now stand. However, as a result of another successful year of fundraising, I can report that we hope to be in a position in the next year or so to be able to make a grant to the Parochial Church Council to cover the cost of the planned redecoration of the interior of the Church. As you may recall, the need for such redecoration was discussed at last year's Annual General Meeting and, with the agreement of the Parochial Church Council, was subsequently declared to be the Friends' latest fundraising objective. With the likely funds required for this nearly in place, the Committee has naturally been giving consideration to what the Friends next fund raising project should be. In the light of the discussion at last year's Annual General Meeting, our current view is that we should make an offer to raise funds for the PCC to upgrade the church heating system. As you will see from the Agenda, there will be an opportunity to discuss this idea further at a later stage of this evening's meeting.

Our main fundraising event during the last year was, as usual, our annual Festival of Flowers and Music held over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Visitors to the 2015 Festival were able to view flower arrangements on the theme of A Good Read. They were also treated to a number of musical moments and group singing throughout the Festival. Together with a Craft Fair on all three days of the Festival, a 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 also financially. I will leave the latter to Rosemary to address in her report.

The Friends 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 and most enjoyable Quiz Evening in February of this year. A particularly big thank you is due to Pam and Steve Robertson for once again setting the questions for the Quiz and overseeing the marking, and to Mike Trippick for his sterling performance as Quiz Master. As usual, a great time was had by all.

The Friends would like to be able to once again offer Sunday Afternoon Teas from the Church Room during the months of June, July, August and September this year. However, this will only be possible if volunteers are forthcoming who are prepared to organise rotas for segments of this season, together with those willing to sign-up for the individual weekly slots in these rotas. Please let me or any of the other Committee members know if you are able to help in either way. Don't worry if you haven't been involved with the Teas before, as training will be provided.

As you may recall, the Friends put together a display about the men of Thorley who served in the First World War to mark the 100th anniversary of its outbreak 2014. This was based largely on the contents of a note book compiled by the Revd John Edward Ingleby Procter, the Rector of Thorley at the time, in which he painstakingly recorded details of the 103 servicemen from the parish who answered the call to arms. During the past year this display was again on view during our Festival of Flowers and Music in August, and in October was the centre piece of the Friends' stand at the History Day at the Markwell Pavilion organised by the Bishop's Stortford History Society. Staying on the theme of the First World War, once the necessary business of this Annual General Meeting has been completed, Bill Hardy will introduce a film about life on the Home Front in Hertfordshire during that War, which will then be shown as our evening continues with a finger buffet and drinks.

The Friends' website has continued to attract attention during the course of the year. It was particularly pleasing to receive an email from Prof Paul Janz, the Head of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King's College London, to say that he had found the biography of Samuel Horsley on our website helpful in understanding what he termed 'that worthy divine's background'. Samuel, like his father before him, was Rector of St James the Great during the eighteenth century. Brought up in Thorley from the age of twelve, where he was taught at home by his father, Samuel went on to become a skilled mathematician and scientist as well as an eminent theologian. He was to pick and win a theological fight with Joseph Priestly, the discoverer of oxygen, that led to him being elevated to the Bishopric and judged by many to be the ablest prelate of his time in the House of Lords. If you would like to learn more about him, or indeed any of the other Rectors who have served from the fourteenth century to the end of the Second World War, do take a look at the Friends' website.

I will 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 hand over to Rosemary for her Treasurer's report.

Thank you very much.

Philip Hargrave

11 March 2016

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