Heritage Buildings and Community Development Manager of Diocese of Worcester, Andrew Mottram, congratulated the Friends of St. James on their achievements in restoring the church to the centre of the community when he spoke following the recent Friends AGM on Monday 30 March. He said that Bishampton was now held up as a ‘model’ of excellence for other villages to follow, and that it had ‘got its act together’ in terms of holding successful events, attracting grants, networking, with other village organisations – and having the pub and shop under the ownership of the community.
What Friends of St.James’ had achieved, he said, in the three years since it was set up, was to give the community a sense of ownership of the church building so that everyone could enjoy it, even those with non-secular interests. He said that the Friends’ efforts embodied the ‘Big Society’ and that the trust which had developed between the PCC and FOSJ needed to be kept alive with good communication being key. He wished the orgnisation every ongoing success.
His speech followed FOSJ’s Annual General Meeting at St. James’ Church which was well attended and where founding Chairman, Martin Dickinson, and fellow Trustee Bill Dobie stepped down from the Committee. The Trustees re-elected are : (from left to right) Wendy Wiggett, Lesley Miller, Geraldine Stapely, Eric Carter (Secretary and Treasurer), Howard Morrish and Ian Hughes who was elected as the new Chairman. Martin, in his report, thanked the trustees, and the members for their support in the past, and said he was pleased with how much had been achieved in the past three years. He was leaving the committee with a healthy membership of 85, as he felt it was time for someone with fresh ideas and perspective to take over the reins, although he intended to remain an active member.
Over the past year the Summer Ball, Harvest Supper, Battle of Britain talk, Christmas Celebration and Curry and Quiz nights had all been sell-out events, all resulting in profits to put towards the new wash-room facilities which were now virtually complete thanks to Victoria Poole. Donations by members had realised £4,200 over the year with £18,000 being raised from other sources to go towards the improvements. It was planned to repeat various events and to campaign for increasing the membership even further in the year ahead.