Chairman’s report to the Annual General Meeting, 2010
The year has been one of Highs and Lows.
In November 2009 WREN warned that it could no longer give block grants to the County Churches Trusts and were looking at a more responsible way of supporting church repair work. After much lobbying, by our own letters and the National Churches Trust, we finally heard in June that this would not involve the expertise of the County Trusts and that the money would go directly to selected Grade I and II* Listed churches on the advice of English Heritage and the NCT.
However in April the NCT launched a new Partnership Grants Programme allocating £20,000 to each County Trust enrolled in the Scheme. The Notts Historic Churches Trust has applied for inclusion in the Scheme and awaits the return of the signed Agreement before 1st December, making the money available from 1st January 2011.
The Church’s grant applications will be processed by us and submitted to the NCT for ratification and payment. None of the fund can be used to pay for this administration, as was possible from the WREN grant. The need to raise Trust funds is now greater than ever and over the last year the basis for approved Grant allocations has been reduced to 12.5% of the approved cost with a cap of £2,000. Grants made to churches continue to be limited to £15,000 per quarter, with additions from our other funds.
Income to the Trust from other sources has remained steady over the years, and there is a need to increase these following the loss of the WREN grant. The Trustees were interested to learn of new ideas and higher returns achieved by other County Trusts when they attended the Annual County Churches Trust Conference at Southwell Minster on 18th May this year. This required additional work by Anthea and received high praise from the organisers, and should be recorded here. I shall recommend the formation of a Fund Think Tank to select new sources of income for the Trust in addition to increasing the returns from existing ones.
These consist of the income from the Ride and Stride which last September raised over £20,000 divided between churches and NHCT. Thanks are due for the work done by Boby Stefanov and Mike Elliott in promoting and administering this annual event. This is the second year that the NCT promotional website has been in operation and it will be interesting to learn how this has encouraged participation by non-church members.
The Summer Garden Party at Staunton Hall was well attended and made a small profit. I wish to record thanks to Edmund and Liz Staunton for the use of the Hall and grounds which made such a wonderful setting for the good food and the splendid organ recital by Paul Hale on the restored organ in the church. This was an opportunity to enrol new members into The Friends of Nottinghamshire Historic Churches Trust. Perhaps most of the 100 guests thought that the ticket for the Garden Party was enough contribution, (most of this goes in providing food and wine and entertainment), because very few new members joined.
The Friends have a full and interesting programme of visits and talks ranging this last year from Dr John Beckett’s illustrated talk on the lost Churches of Nottingham, a visit to Upton Church, described by Dr Chris Brooke, and Southwell Methodist Church to hear Dr Stanley Chapman speak on Southwell Methodism. The visits were all well attended and concluded by sumptuous teas and all arranged by Anthea, at Trustees suggestions. Thanks to all who helped make these memorable occasions. The next visit is a trip to Norwell on Saturday 9th October. We are still looking for a volunteer to provide leadership for The Friends to reduce the time spent by Anthea on organising visits.
A new publication of two, smaller Christmas cards has been promoted which, unfortunately are not available for this evening but will be on sale, through the Trustees, some churches, and two Cards for Good Causes outlets in the near future at £3.95 for 10. I hope that these will make a worthwhile profit. Our thanks are due to Chris Brooke and Graeme Renton for the photographs, and Andrew Paris for his patience. The letterhead has been updated, and new membership application forms for The Friends have been printed. The Annual report, issued earlier this year, is in a new booklet format which has proved cheaper to produce and distribute to sponsors and supporters. My thanks to Maureen Hallam for her persistence in obtaining sponsorships and her work on cards and leaflets.
After an invitation to request renewal of the Jessie Spencer Trust grant which we enjoyed for the last three years, I am pleased to report a promise of an annual grant from the Trust of £2,500 per quarter for the next three years.
Other grants make a significant contribution to our funds but more is needed to enable the Trust to assist the many Christian churches in Nottinghamshire to maintain our historic buildings.
David Digby Atkins