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.)

February 2022 News

FOSM Chairman Colin Dixon writes:

We held our Nine Lessons and Carols service for the first time in two years on 19th December with a larger than expected congregation. Once more a very satisfying service led very ably by Reverend Tunnicliffe.

COMPLETED PROJECTS

In the intervening two years since the last Nine Lessons and Carols Service, the Friends have provided over £200,000 to St Mary’s Church for the new vestry cupboards, the wonderful new glass vestry screen, the new bell ringing floor (pictured above), and of course the bells themselves.

This was only possible through the good offices of members of the Friends who donated their hard-earned money or went out and garnered charity grants from a variety of sources. We also raised money through events held over the past few years.

CONTINUING PROJECTS

At the same time, the Friends continued with their normal maintenance work, such as mowing the churchyard, clearing the weeks and paying for the cutting of the yew hedges. The yew hedges always look so wonderful when they have been cut and it is the Friends who pay for it.

NEW PROJECTS

There are still more things that are in need of replacement or repair in this ancient and lovely church of ours. Most pressing is probably the boiler which is on its last lets and will need to be replaced by an environmentally-friendly option at an horrendous cost. We still haven’t forgotten the desperate need for a toilet for use by the congregation and visitors to the cemetery and the management of the churchyard now that the large conifers have been removed.

HOW TO BECOME A FRIEND OF ST MARY’S

Please join the Friends of St Mary’s if you are not already a member and support a dedicated group of people determined that this beautiful church should not fall into decay. Details of membership can be found here. If you are already a member, don’t forget to renew your membership for 2022.

NEW VICE PRESIDENTS

The Friends of St Mary’s has The Right Honorable The Earl of Liverpool as President and His Grace The Duke of Beaufort as Patron. We also had one Honorary Vice President in Sir George White, one of the original founders of the Friends.

However, in the past year it has been our great pleasure to elect three new Honorary Vice Presidents. This honour goes to people who have given outstanding service to The Friends of St Mary’s and to the church. The new Honorary Vice Presidents are:

  • Mr John Appleby
  • Mr William Fairney
  • Sir Ian Macfadyen

The first two were presented with their scrolls at the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols, and Sir Ian, who was on holiday at the time, received his scroll at the St Wulfstan Service on 19th January.

PLEASE HELP US TIDY THE CHURCHYARD

We are planning a number of maintenance forays into the churchyard this year to see if we can at last get it under control. The first will be Saturday 12th February at 10.30am. Please do come and help – no experience necessary, just enthusiasm and whatever tools you have to hand.

NEW FUNDRAISING EVENT: Bristol Male Voice Choir (14th May)

To end on a brighter note, as we see the light at the end of the Covid tunnel, we are beginning to plan new fundraising events for the coming year. The first of these is the Bristol Male Voice Choir singing in the church on Saturday 14th May. Don’t forget to put it in your diaries.

Best wishes to all Friends and potential Friends.

Colin Dixon
Chairman

FEBRUARY SERVICES

Sunday 6th February Holy Communion (9.30am)

Sunday 13th February Evensong (6pm)

Sunday 20th February Matins (9.30am)

Sunday 27th February Evensong (6pm)

Online video services will continued to be streamed at 10am on the first and third Sundays and live-streamed from Hawkesbury on second and fourth Sundays at www/youtube.com/c/badmintonbenefice.

November 2021 News

Colin Dixon, Chairman of Friends of St Mary’s, writes:

Following the years of concentration on the refurbishment of St Mary’s Tower and the installation of the new set of eight bells, the Friends of St Mary’s need some new projects to concentrate its fundraising on.

NEW TOILET FACILITIES

As it happens, there has for many years been an issue that has exercised the Friends of St Mary’s, amongst others, for many years, and that is the lack of toilet facilities at the church. Lisa and Christopher Overton have been very kind to allow the use of the toilet in the Malt House, but it is about time we had one that we do not use on a grace-and-favour basis.

The installation of the toilet will not be a simple matter as the Diocese will not allow a toilet inside or attached to the fabric of the Church, so that means it must go outside in the churchyard. Although we have identified a reasonably suitable place, there are additional complications: the churchyard (because it is a closed churchyard) belongs to the District Council and not to the Church.

Visitors to the cemetery would also benefit from the provision of toilet facilities and the cemetery belongs to the Parish Council. Furthermore, it would not be possible to restrict the use of the toilet so it would be available to walkers and cyclists also.

NEW LANDSCAPING PROJECT

While considering the siting of the toilet facilities, it would be advisable to landscape the churchyard where the old pine trees were removed earlier this year. That area is now distressingly overgrown and needs professional help to get it back into reasonable shape.

A couple of very important projects for FoSM to become involved with in the coming months, if not years. If anyone can offer advice, guidance or help with these projects, especially in the short term by pulling nettles and clearing the brush, then please contact me or Lisa Overton.

NEW SEAT CUSHIONS FOR CHOIR

The Friends have recently contributed towards new seat cushion kits for the Choir in the Church. These cushion kits will be completed by the WI which has also benefited from a legacy from Judy Chancellor.

NEW ROOF ALARM

The Church insurers had required that the Church has an alarm system installed on the roof to deter thieves from stealing the lead. FoSM granted the PCC a contribution of £1375 towards the cost of the roof alarm system which has recently been fitted. This was match-funded by the All Churches Trust which has also donated £1375.

WULFSTAN SUPPER REPORT

The Wulfstan Supper to celebrate the installation of the Wulfstan windows in the Church 10 years ago, hosted by Mark and Fiona Steeds, 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.

NOVEMBER SERVICES

7th November (9.30am) – Holy Communion

14th November (10.50am) – Service of Remembrance at the War Memorial

21st November (9.30am) – Morning Praise

28th November (5pm) – Evensong (Advent Sunday)