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AGM: Chairman's Report

Friends of St Peter’s AGM

Report by Chairman of the Committee, November 2022

It has been quite a tumultuous year, all said, for all of us. We have marked many of the events that have shaped this year at St Peter’s Church.

St Peter’s has always been somewhere to come for reflection and for community. People came to an event we held in June to mark the Platinum Jubilee Tea Party, celebrating 70 years of the Queen’s reign. Up to 200 people joined us, some on their own, wishing to be part of a significant historical moment and our event became a focus for that. There was a great sense of community, with many people joining in conversation, over tea and home-made cakes, with others they had not met before. We unveiled a commemorative plaque in front of 3 newly planted native Rowan trees.

The afternoon was joyous and rounded off with the exuberant and engaging Brighton Morris Dancers who were all but exhausted as we came last on their long list of engagements!

But not long after in September there was a different marking. The very sad news of the sudden death of the Queen. We joined other churches around the United Kingdom in tolling our bells at noon on the 9th September. There was a Book of Condolence in the Church, which was now a place for reflection and remembrance.

There has been a return, in other ways, to a more active role of the church in Arts and community events.

Just some of the Arts activities we have hosted this year:

  • The theatre group, This is My Theatre, continue a wonderful association with St Peter’s as part of a partnership with the Churches Conservation Trust, performing in many of their wonderful, historic and atmospheric churches.

  • In May they toured their Comedy of Errors.

  • In April there was an evening of remarkable songwriting and musicianship from the duo, Firewatching, who compose original songs often inspired by events or people in history. They played violin and guitar. It was a magnetic performance.

  • In July, the Shoreham Chamber Choir held a choral Evensong.

  • More recently we have had an Arts Installation, Black Tent, with a large textile sculpture.

We have as Friends hosted the annual May Sale of plants, books and crafts.

Coming up we are introducing an Autumn Fayre in November, a different seasonal celebration with chutneys, preserves and crafts alongside the ever popular home-made cakes and the chance to ring the bells.

These are our annual fundraisers but we are always looking to explore new ways to raise revenue for the church, in hiring it out.

Just this month we were approached by the production company behind ITV’s ‘Grace’ who did some filming in the churchyard. You may have noticed a raised police presence (of a fictional kind) in Preston Park at the beginning of November. We hope to post some film shots on social media since we are keen to raise the profile of the church and perhaps a backdrop on a national TV drama will help us along.

In terms of maintenance and conservation, the CCT completed its regular

6-monthly check of the fabric of the building of St Peter’s, back in February this year, replacing some tiles, cleaning gutters and the trench around the building.

The Friends Group Committee have been in consultation with the CCT about replacing the lighting system in the church with LED lights. In the current arrangement, the lights are expensive to buy, to maintain and to use. The lighting panel for the system is difficult and cumbersome and we hope that a new system will better light the wall-paintings, be cheaper to run and more attractive to hirers.

This will be an expense that we will have to meet ourselves, and it will be costly. We are currently seeking financial quotes. It will be met through fundraising, since these are not essential repairs which occupies the greater part of the CCT’s funds.

We hope to plan a series of events next year and have some wonderful contributors in mind and ideas are taking shape. Watch this space.

In other news, we are grateful to St John’s for the donation of chairs which meant we could cull those we have with woodworm!

Speaking of St John’s we would like to welcome the new ‘Priest in Charge’ also known as the vicar, Emma Ham-Riche. Emma joined us at our last Friends Committee meeting and was enormously positive and enthusiastic about St Peter’s. She is eager to support the work we do and the life of St Peter’s and it was a delight for all of us to meet her.

On a sadder note, we lost a valued colleague this year, Sheila Burgess, who died in February. She was great supporter and Friend to St Peter’s. She was a long-time keyholder, opening and closing the church every Thursday. I recall many good chats with Sheila at our annual events. She will be much missed.

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