The Friends of St James the Great, Thorley

Chairman's Report to the

Annual General Meeting

held on Friday, 24 March 2000


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

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

We are very grateful to Max Streets and his team of supporters for so efficiently organising and undertaking the Churchyard clear-up sessions. They have ensured that the Churchyard’s impeccable appearance continues to be noticed by many visitors. We also recognise the valuable contribution made by Roy Griggs both voluntarily and, since the Autumn, by formal arrangement with the PCC. He has been clearing the backlog of work in the Churchyard, in particular removing the overgrown vegetation round the boundary.

During the past year we were sad to learn of the deaths of Tom Camp, Mary Miller and Leslie Rice. The Friends have received a number of donations in memory of Tom. The Treasurer will expand upon this in his Report. We are also grateful for the legacy passed to us by the Rector which Mary bequeathed for Church purposes.

The provision of Sunday afternoon teas from after Easter until the end of October was again very popular, as was the Festival of Flowers and Music held over the August Bank Holiday Weekend. Both the Festival and teas, as well as being important events from the point of view of fund raising, offered significant outreach opportunities. The warm welcome visitors received resulted in many appreciative comments. I would like to extend my thanks to all those who helped make these events so successful.

Our Quiz evening in November, hosted by Peter and Ann Cottee, was supported by teams from Holy Trinity and St Michael’s in addition to those from St James. The demand for tickets was such that we again had to say "no" to some would-be contestants. The suppers purchased from Fish ‘n Chicken, and so efficiently organised by Sue Russell, went down very well. Our thanks to Sue, and to Peter and Ann. As you know, 1999 was Peter’s and Ann’s last year and John Loadman has volunteered to take over as Quiz Master this November.

I would also like to thank Dr Richard Kent for kindly donating to the Friends the money he raised through sponsorship when he ran the Edinburgh Marathon.

The financial results of all our fund raising activities can be seen in the accounts and will covered by Adrian later in the meeting. This year we paid for extensive treeworks and for the replacement and repair of equipment used for Churchyard Maintenance.

The total money raised during 1999, when added to funds at our disposal at the start of the year, enabled us to increase the amount committed to the Parochial Church Council to support the forthcoming restoration of the tower to 18.000. We expect that the above figure will rise to over 22,000 by the time work starts. The Committee felt that the visibility of a clock in the tower would be somewhat limited from anywhere but the west end of the Churchyard and recommended that its installation not be included in the works. This recommendation was accepted by the PCC.

The Friends received a Yew Tree sapling as part of the Yews for the Millennium initiative. This was presented to our Secretary during Evensong at St Albans Cathedral on 13 November 1999. We intend to arrange a planting ceremony in the Churchyard when Tim Fuller, who is currently looking after the sapling, advises that it is hardy enough.

I will now turn to the proposal to re-order the west end of the Church to enable the area to be used for children’s work and as a display area when necessary. This was discussed at length during the 1998 AGM, and mentioned again at last year’s AGM when a motion was passed to hold a Special Meeting to discuss the matter once the planned mock-up was in place. We had, as you will have seen from the letter inviting you to this meeting, hoped that this mock-up would have been in place in time for a discussion today. However it has not yet been set up, although the work to remedy the dampness problem in the south wall of the Church, upon which the installation of the mock-up was contingent, has now commenced.

I would like to thank Philip and Adrian, and indeed all the members of the Committee, for their support during the past year.

On behalf of myself and the Committee, I would also like to thank you all for the support you have given us. I am sure we can look forward to your continuing support in the coming year.


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