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 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.)