Chairman’s Address at the FOSM AGM

For any members who were unable to attend our recent AGM, and for any non-members who might be wondering what was said there, here is a transcript of FOSM Chairman Colin Dixon’s address, which summarised our progress this year and plans for the next.

And if you’d like to plan ahead so that you can attend next year’s AGM, you might like to know that the 2023 meeting will take place on Sunday 25th June.

FoSM Chairman’s Report 2021/22

I think it is appropriate that we hold a minute’s silence for Stephanie Appleby who  died on Thursday 6th January 2022, aged 82 years. Stephanie, along with her husband John was a major benefactor of the Friends over the years.

Also, for Tony Mattock who had a cottage on Back Street and has been a long-time supporter of the Friends.

It was with some sadness that we accepted Ian Macfadyen’s resignation as the Chairman of the Friends at the last AGM and I took over as the New Chairman.

I took over following the huge expenditure for the structural repairs to the Church Tower and having been locked down for two years, we had lost two years of potential fundraising.  The FoSM funds were quite depleted.

However, during the lockdown the Friends continued with their normal maintenance work such as mowing the churchyard, clearing the weeds and organising and organising the cutting of the yew hedges. 

Early in 2021 the five large conifers in the churchyard were taken down to clear the ground on the south side of the churchyard.  This has made a great difference to the amount of light getting in through the south windows.  Following the removal of the fir trees the weeds and weed trees were more visible and the Friends’ task force have made great inroads into clearing up the area and making it presentable.  Many thanks for those who took part for all their efforts.

The task force also reinvigorated the memorial garden at the top of the South side of the Churchyard started by John Appleby – well done to Pauline, Debbie and Tiggy for all their hard work which has certainly paid off.

We had a very successful Pimm’s Tent at the Hawkesbury Show equalling other years’ profits and boosting the Friends’ depleted coffers.  We were at our new position at the far side of the showground between the Community Shop and HULF tents.  The general consensus was that this is a good position and we have secured the same place this year.

As is usual a late summer project has been the clipping of the yew hedges around the church which is an expenditure that FoSM has traditionally taken on.  The yews always look wonderful when they have been trimmed and they set off the church perfectly.  It is fortuitous that the profits made on the Pimm’s Tent at the Show exactly matches the expenditure on the Yew Hedge clipping and has done for many years. Buy a Pimm’s and clip a hedge

The bishop dedicated the new ring of eight bells and the new vestry at St. Mary’s Church on 10th September 2021 to a full church.  No. 3 bell called St Mark is dedicated to the Friends of St. Mary’s.

Bells were completed in July 2021 and first rung in earnest following their dedication on the 10th September.  They have since been rung regularly for services and special occasions.  They have just had their first “MoT” in July.

It was a joy to see weddings and baptisms taking place in the Church again – and one of the merriest sights was the bride being carried away by her new husband in his dumper truck on the 18th September to the sound of the new bells – congratulations to Mr and Mrs Max Bleaken.

Bellinda the scarecrow arrived for the Hawkesbury Scarecrow Trail and was outside the church for a week. As you can guess she was a bell ringer.  Thanks to Jenny, Tom and Sam Jackman and Debbie Young for all their efforts in putting her together

The Church insurers required that the Church has an alarm system installed on the roof to deter thieves from stealing the lead.  The Friends gave the PCC a contribution of £1,375 towards the cost of the roof alarm system which has been fitted. This was match funded by the All Churches Trust which has also donated £1,375.

In the autumn of 2021, the Friends also contributed towards new seat cushion kits for the choir in the Church.  These cushion kits will be completed by the WI and have also benefited from a legacy from Judy Chancellor.

A Wulfstan banquet, to celebrate the installation of the Wulfstan windows in the Church 10 years ago, was hosted by Mark and Fiona Steeds on 23rd October at the Beaufort Arms.  It was a great success and a good time was had by all.  Mark gave a very informative talk on the life and deeds of St. Wulfstan the Hawkesbury Saint.  As a result, Mark and Fiona were able to give The Friends of St Mary’s a £100 donation – thank you, Mark and Fiona.

We held our Nine Lessons and Carols service for the first time in two years on the 19th December 2021 with a larger than expected congregation.  Once more a very satisfying service led very ably by Reverend Tunnicliffe.  It was wonderful to be back in the church again.   Following the service, the traditional mulled wine and mince pies were not served at Church Farm House as a precaution against the Covid resurgence but hopefully they will be back again this year.

It was a sad day when the Methodist Chapel closed down at Easter but a really good attendance for the last service.  St Mary’s Church received a large number of chairs, a lectern and a cross mural from the Methodist Hall.

The competition to grow the tallest sunflower was started in May 2022, with seeds sold for the Friends.  Seeds were available at the school and the Community Stores.

On 12th May the new burner was fitted to the church central heating boiler.  The boiler was paid for by John Appleby through a donation to the Friends.  The new burner unit is more efficient than the old one and so will save on the Church fuel costs.  Thank you, John.

The Friends of St Mary’s Bristol Male Voice Choir and the St Mary’s Church Choir Concert, on Saturday 14th May, was a resounding success with many people expressing their enjoyment.  This was only the second fundraising event the Friends of St. Mary’s had been able to organise in two years and it was a welcome change.

It is not often that an audience gets two world class choirs for the price of one and organ solos during the intermission and at the end by our own renowned organist – Ben Humphries.

There was an eclectic mix of hymns and songs from both choirs. The St Mary’s Church Choir with Ben Humphries the director started off the concert with a wonderful rendition of ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ by Howard Goodall.  The concert raised over £600 for the Friends.

It is the end of another era in the retirement of Linda Fairney as a Churchwarden at St Mary’s Church.  The Friends of St Mary’s welcomes Lisa Overton the new Churchwarden.  Lisa is also our secretary and has the Church at her heart.

The Church was open over the Jubilee weekend and a team of Friends led by Debbie Young served a light breakfast on Sunday 5th June after the 9.30am Choral Eucharist for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The Hawkesbury bells rang a 1/4 peal at the same time.  The thanksgiving service was very well attended on 5th June and the breakfast afterwards was also a success. 

The new LED energy-saving light bulbs have been installed in the church and they seem to be very good replacements.  The Friends contributed £1,000 towards the cost of the lighting and their installation.  The new bulbs use less than 10% of the energy of the previous bulbs for the same amount of light giving considerable savings in energy costs.

The Open Tower event was held on 23rd and 24th July and was very well attended.  It contributed well to the Friends’ coffers.  Many thanks to all the Friends and Bell ringers who made the two days such a success.   

The Friends have commissioned a new (like-for-like) oak gate for the west entrance to the churchyard.  It is currently being made and hopefully it will be installed before the old one gives up entirely.

The Friends have also commissioned a new church noticeboard for the west entrance to the church as the door of the old one threatens to fall off at any moment.

John Appleby has commissioned and paid for a set of automatic clappers which will ring the Hawkesbury Bells automatically.  They will enable the bells to be rung when there are no bell ringers available.

We are grateful to many people for their donations to the Friends this year – in particular:

  • John Appleby who is always supportive of the Friends
  • Bell ringers who gave their wedding expenses to the Friends
  • Pauline Dixon who gave £80 from her Cotswold Challenge walk to the Friends
  • Debbie Young for setting up the second-hand book table at the back of the Church

All the people Friends and potential Friends who helped out at our fundraising events during the past year..

Future fundraising events:

  • The Friends’ Pimms tent at the Hawkesbury Show on 27th August
  • We will be entering a Scarecrow in the Scarecrow Trail in October
  • Don’t forget the service of nine lessons and carols, Sunday 18th December

And finally – the FoSM AGM is set for 25th June 2023.

Colin Dixon
Chairman

(Colin Dixon is pictured on the right in the photo at the top of this article, receiving from James Joynson a model of a bell hung for full-circle ringing.)

August 2022 News

FOSM Chairman Colin Dixon writes:

The Friends of St Mary’s Annual General meeting will be held on  Sunday 14th August at 5.30pm.

The Friends of St. Mary’s is a charity which has a single purpose – to keep St Mary’s Church available to the Hawkesbury community.

What it does is to raise money to provide the sort of things that the PCC would not be able to fund.

Things such as a new West gate to the Church, a new noticeboard, trimming the yew hedges and mowing the grass around the Churchyard.

FOSM has also been a conduit of donations from benefactors such as the new central heating burner financed by John Appleby.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

You can help with these tasks in a number of ways if you want St Mary’s to continue to be a cultural centre of the Hawkesbury Community:

  • Become a member of the Friends – join online now
  • Become a committee member of the Friends – talk to me or Lisa Overton
  • Support our fundraising ventures – the next one is the Pimms Tent at the Hawkesbury Show
  • Help occasionally with clearing up the Churchyard – two hours a month?
  • Become a donor to the Friends – the next big project is the Eco Loo in the Churchyard.

The AGM is where we report on what we have done over the past year and what we are hoping to do in the future.

WHAT IS NEXT?

  • Hawkesbury Show: join us in our Pimm’s tent at the Hawkesbury Show on Saturday 27th August
  • Scarecrow Trail: come and see the FOSM Scarecrow at the Church during October (23rd-30th)
  • FOSM 9 Lessons & Carols Service on 18th December

AUGUST SERVICES

Sunday 7th August Holy Communion (9.30am)
Sunday 14th August Evensong ((6pm)
Sunday 21st August Morning Prayer (9.30am)
Sunday 28th August Ecumenical Songs of Praise in the Show Tent at Hawkesbury Upton Recreation Ground (next to the Village Hall) (11am)

September 2021 News

Lisa Overton, Secretary of the Friends of St Mary’s, provides our latest news round-up:

AGM

The Friends of St Mary’s Hawkesbury held their Annual General Meeting on Sunday 25th July, happily in the church, followed by a beautiful choral evensong with the choir singing for the first time in the church for months. It was a very positive and cheering occasion as it marked not only a gradual return to normality, but also the completion of the excellent conservation work on the tower, the installation of the new bells and the re-ordering of the vestry, all to great acclaim and satisfaction.

At the meeting, our Chairman Sir Ian Macfadyen reported on the success of the tower and bells projects and recorded the Friends’ enormous thanks to all those who have contributed to them, and especially to John and Stephanie Appleby for their great generosity in giving the bells to St Mary’s and for funding their installation. The Friends had contributed the sum of £55,000 towards the conservation of the stonework of the tower. A full record of all those who contributed to both projects would be kept permanently in the church.

He paid tribute to the excellent work done by Matthew Higby for his work in engineering the bells, to Jessica Holland of Insalis, Architects, Richard Thompson and Keith Hoskins of Carrek Ltd of Bristol for the stonework conservation, new bell-ringing platform and fitting out of the vestry.

The Chairman recorded too, with sadness and remembrance, the death of Gordon Beresford who with Mary had been such a long-standing and generous support of the Friends. Sadly too, the Friends had not been able to hold any fund-raising events during the year owing to the restrictions imposed by Covid-19, but was hopeful that events could begin again in the autumn. He thanked Debbie Young for her excellent work updating and maintaining our website, which has been invaluable during the year of lockdowns.

Finally he thanked the Treasurer, Mike Bendry, for his unstinting work dealing with the financial complexities of the two major projects, and the rest of the Committee for their support. He announced his retirement as Chairman after three terms, and wished the Friends every success in future.

Generous thanks were extended to Sir Ian for all he has done for the Friends and St Mary’s over so many years.

The meeting approved the accounts for the year, re-elected the auditor, and then elected Colin Dixon as the new Chairman, and the rest of the committee as given below.

Vice-Chairman: William Fairney; Treasurer: Mike Bendry; Secretary: Lisa Overton; members Linda Fairney, Pauline Setterfield, Peter Setterfield, Debbie Young, Mary Davies, Mary Beresford, Neil Fozard, Hilary Rogers.

Many thanks to all those who helped in the Friends’ Pimm’s Tent at the Hawkesbury Show.

COMING EVENTS

There will be a medieval banquet in honour of St Wulfstan on Saturday 23rd October at the Beaufort Arms in aid of the Friends of St Mary’s. This marks the tenth anniversary of the dedication of a stained glass window to St Wulfstan at St Mary’s Church on 23rd October 2011 to celebrate his millennium.

Our annual FOSM Service of Nine Lessons and Carols will take place on Sunday 19th December.

MEMBERSHIP

We are very keen to recruit new members of the Friends of St Mary’s as we emerge from the constraints of the last 18 months. You do not have to belong to the Church of England or be a parishioner, just be someone who would like to support our beautiful parish church and preserve it for future generations to enjoy.

Subscriptions are:

  • Annual membership – £10 singe, £15 joint
  • Life membership; – £200 single, £250 joint

Subscriptions are due 1st August each year. If you are a UK taxpayer and would like to GiftAid your subscription, we can supply the relevant form, which can be signed and returned along with a cheque or online donation to our Treasurer, Mr Michael Bendry, 14 Hunters Mead, Hawkesbury Upton GL9 1BL.

SEPTEMBER SERVICES

We are delighted that we are now able to hold services in St Mary’s again. Please bring masks when you come to church and obey the social distancing rules. Our sidesmen will help to keep everything in order.

5th– 9.30am – Holy Communion
12th – 6pm – Evensong
19th – 9.30am – Morning Praise
26th – 6pm – Evensong

Online video services will continue to be streamed at 10am at www.youtube.com/c/badmintonbenefice