The main purpose of FoSM is to raise funds for the restoration and maintenance of St Mary's Church and its surrounds.
St Mary's Church dates from the 13th century and is a listed building of significant historic importance. Unfortunately it is constantly in need of work to preserve it in a satisfactory state. Around £100k is needed for the foreseeable future for various restoration projects, and the church simply does not have that kind of money. Its income from the regular church congregation is declining and barely covers its operating costs. Neither the Church of England or the Church Commissioners have any legal responsibility to provide financial support.
The Friends of St Mary’s, FoSM, was established in 2011 and is a registered charity. Its main purpose is to raise funds for the restoration and maintenance of St Mary's Church and its surrounds. In particular it appeals to all those who do not attend St Mary’s but value it as an integral part of the village heritage and landscape and wish to see it preserved for this and future generations.
In its first six years FoSM has raised over £45,000 through individual donations and fundraising events. It holds an AGM, an annual member event and issues a newsletter twice a year. One of its key objectives is to engender a community spirit and once again make the church a focal point in the village for concerts, lectures and other community activities.
Fundraising events held so far have been well supported and have included concerts in St Mary’s and suppers in the Morrell Room with such themes as wine tasting, quizzes and singalongs. Other fundraisers held have been coffee mornings, lunches and afternoon teas.
FoSM has already committed over £35,000 of funds raised to date for repair and maintenance projects needed by the church and regularly considers others proposed by the Parochial Church Council.
Major projects already completed have been the replacement of the Celtic Cross on the roof which was in a dangerous state and the restoration of the historic Lych Gate
Minor projects completed include repairs to the roof, chancel and stained glass windows and maintenance work to the churchyard. Two current funding commitments are for the installation of a lightning conductor and the auto winding of the church clock.
Running a charity such as FoSM takes a lot of time and effort but is very rewarding. However it can only continue to be a success if sufficient supporters come forward to support it. The benefit will be that St Mary’s will be safely preserved for the future and thus remain part of what makes the village so attractive to those who live here.
The Friends of St Mary’s welcomes membership from those who support our aims -- irrespective of religious creed or belief. We include those who live in the village and surrounding area, those who have moved away, those who have family ties with the Church, or those who are just visiting to appreciate the beauty of the building in its position by the River Thames.
If you are sufficiently inspired to find out more, or make a donation, then please pick up a leaflet in church or contact the FoSM Chairman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively speak to the Church Warden, John Rogers, who will be able to help.
Graham Harvey, FoSM Chairman, September 2018