I am sure all of you will have read, seen or heard the many tributes to Sir Donald Sinden who died earlier this month and to those I would like to add my own. He was an active and hugely supportive Vice-President; not merely a name on the notepaper. He rarely missed an AGM and on hearing that this year’s meeting would be at St Augustine, Brookland, the scene of his memorable address in 1999, he kindly sent us a pencil drawing of the spire at Brookland which we reproduced as the front cover to this year’s in our accounts. We mourn his passing but give thanks for all he contributed to the Trust.
Members will also be saddened at the news of the death of the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, another of our Vice-Presidents. In 1999 she gave a delightful address at our AGM held in Ivychurch when she recalled her childhood, growing up in the Cotswolds.
Once again we were blessed with fine weather when we met at Brookland for this year’s AGM and listened to a fine address by the Bishop of Dover, Trevor Willmott. One or two members have commented that the cost of our lunch, which always precedes our AGM, is a little too high. We have taken note and hope to be able to provide lunch next near at a slightly lower price whilst maintaining a similar standard. Our AGM also gave us an opportunity to say farewell to the Rev. Jim Field following his retirement. The Romney Marsh benefice was fortunate to have found someone with such energy and drive and the revival and restoration of St Nicholas, New Romney is a fine testament to his tenure. Whilst Jim will be missed, I would like to welcome the Rev. Julia Coleman whose installation at St Nicholas was so well attended.
To date, a little over half our budget of £80,000 has been allocated. A grant of £20,000 has been made to East Guldeford for repairs to the roof and rendering on the south wall; £10,624 to Snargate to complete the work carried out on the tie beams and additional funds for repairs to the vestry window and door; and £7,500 to Ivychurch for repairs to their roof. Smaller grants have been made to Newchurch, Brookland, Snave and Fairfield for general repairs. There are a number of significant applications in the pipeline and it is likely that we will slightly exceed our budget this year. As members will know, we allocate funds where the need is greatest and whilst we now have scope to make grants for improvements both inside and outside the churches, our primary objective is and remains the maintenance and repairs of the buildings.
After many months of hard work, the Trust’s new website – www.romneychurches.net – is about to go live and should be available by the time this reaches you. It is still very much work in progress and improvements and enhancements will continue to be made but I hope both members and potential members will find it useful and informative. Special thanks must go to Richard Andrews who approached the Trust at the end of last year and offered his technical services ‘pro bono’ not only to redesign the website but also to maintain it. Thanks also to the ‘home team’ of Ian Meier, Nick Hudd and David Hanbury for their tremendous efforts and endless patience with the Chairman.
As the tours season draws to a close our thanks go to John Hendy for another very successful year with some fifteen tours for the year and eight already booked for 2015. The members’ tours were also extremely well attended under the guiding hands of Elizabeth Marshall and Joan Campbell. All the tours we run require considerable organisation and preparation and we are fortunate to have such a dedicated team.
I mentioned in my Chairman’s Statement that we have three Christmas cards this year; a reworking of the Angel Frieze at East Guldeford from a photograph by Douglas Moss and pictures of Fairfield and New Romney kindly provided by two of our ‘regulars’, John Hendy and our President John Doyle. The usual leaflet and order form is enclosed. We are all very conscious of the high cost of postage these days but I hope Members will support us.
As always, my thanks go to everyone who supports us financially and also to those who give of their time so freely. The churches are a testament to their generosity.
20 October 2014