Chairman’s Report for 2019/2020

Nobody will forget 2020. Happily, however, this report mainly covers the period “BC” (before Covid), a period which now seems like another world.

Generally, the Trust has continued with its primary role of raising money to help Nottinghamshire churches which need financial assistance with maintenance and repair. We have also continued, where appropriate, to disburse £1,000 grants under the Allchurches Trust scheme which allows for provision of roof alarms to help in the fight against lead thefts. Huge thanks are due to Maureen Hallam whose work as fundraiser is fundamental to the Trust’s activities. The same is to be said for the Grants Committee as it deals with applications made by individual churches.

Sadly, Martin Cooper resigned as trustee upon his appointment as Diocesan Chief Executive, and we were sorry to lose him but wish him well in his new role. Martin had only been a trustee for a relatively short period but had been instrumental in a number of initiatives, one of which was the obtaining of marketing advice from a group of Masters’ students at Nottingham Trent University. I would like to thank Martin for his period of service.

We were delighted to welcome Dean Nicola Sullivan as a Patron of the Trust. We look forward to a long and positive relationship with her in this capacity, and thank her for her support for the work of the Trust, both as Patron and Friend.

One of the Trust’s main events is of course the annual Summer Party. In June 2019, this took place at Thrumpton Hall by kind permission of its owner, Miranda Seymour. The fact that the evening was a classic case of “indoors if wet” in no way dampened anyone’s spirits and our hostess’s lecture on one of Lord Byron’s successors, his daughter Ada Lovelace, and other members of the family, was made particularly interesting as she is a published author on her subject.

September’s Ride+Stride 2019 proved to be another great success, both in the enjoyment for the participants but, just as importantly, as our largest single source of income. The success was all the greater as it was the first year that it had been organised without the support of Keith Goodman, whose legacy of its organisation was so important for the running of the event. For that reason, I would like to particularly thank Margaret Lowe for her hard work in continuing this organisation with increasing success.

2019 was another successful year for the Trust’s Friends’ activities. These visits, organised by Anthea Moat, are invariably successful and are usually oversubscribed. My thanks are due especially to Dr Chris Brooke, Professor Michael Jones and Dr Jenny Alexander who so ably and enthusiastically have led them and talked about the churches.

In October, I attended a national conference held in Norwich Cathedral for the various county historic churches trusts. It is always fascinating to speak to other county trusts’ representatives and to compare notes. Although Nottinghamshire is not a particularly wealthy county, the Trust seems to perform reasonably well when looked at in comparison to its peers.

The trustees held a “review meeting” in November. The last had been held a couple of years earlier. We use them to think about broader issues outside the general routine of trustees’ meetings. Amongst other things, we confirmed our policy of only expanding the body of trustees if an exceptional candidate presents themselves, but also that we should look for volunteers to help with specific tasks that the Trust requires.

I am pleased to say that David Tilley was appointed as our first Ambassador to represent the Trust’s interests over a wider area. I made a number of other contacts in this matter and hope to report next year that further appointments have been made. The same comment applies in relation to a volunteer to help coordinate our marketing activities, albeit that once again we have been helped by Andy Platt, who has done much to continue to develop our social media presence.

I also wish to mention the work of Jon Dawson, our Treasurer, Anthea Moat, our Secretary, and Andrew Paris for his expertise and connections in the printing business which gives the Trust a highly professional face. The Trust simply could not function without their help and I would like to thank them for it.

Finally, the lockdown, which occurred at the very end of the Trust’s year, ushered in a period of extreme challenges for all charities. So far, we have weathered those challenges reasonably well. Our ability to continue doing so rests with our supporters, without whom we would be a much less successful organisation. That support is now needed more than ever.

Richard Brackenbury