This is the last Chairman’s letter I will write as I come to the end of my term of office. I have already had an extra three years as Chairman and it is time for someone new to take over and bring new ideas to the Friends. It has been a wonderful time and I have learned a lot and met many impressive people who all work for the benefit of the Friends.
This Annual Report gives details of what we have done in 2018. The Ride & Stride raised a wonderful £113,363 and, thanks to those who took part and to donations and legacies, we were able to pay £152,755 in grants and make grant offers of £125,455. It has always been a proud claim that every penny given by sponsors and donors has gone straight to Kent’s churches. Not only does the Ride & Stride raise money directly for our churches but it also spreads the word about what we do and shows our donors that we actively support our churches.
The Ride & Stride needs all year organisation and we are very sorry that Carolyn Millen has decided that she is going to retire. She has done an incredible job and we are very grateful for all her hard work. Fortunately, she is not abandoning Ride & Stride completely and she will continue to support local areas as needed.
The grants committee continued its thorough appraisal of applications for grants and visited thirty-one churches to talk to those involved in their repair and improvement projects to make sure that they have a complete understanding of what is involved for a proper assessment of need and an appropriate grant.
Through the work of the outings committee members have enjoyed two excellent lectures and visits to twelve churches and a cathedral. All beautiful and interesting buildings in their different ways and often an opportunity to visit an area not seen before. While a pleasure to undertake, it still takes time to organise and we are very grateful to them for making these visits possible.
Why do we do it? Listening to the Bishop of Tonbridge preaching at the service of thanksgiving for the completion of work to the spire at St John the Baptist, Wateringbury made me reflect on what the Friends set out to do in 1949 and what we continue to do.
Three sentences particularly stuck in my mind:
- To cherish a church building is to show respect for those who have gone before us and pastoral care for those who will come after us.
- It is impossible to make sense of buildings without looking at the people who design them and we learn a lot about people from what they have made.
- We shape our buildings; therefore they shape us (Winston Churchill).
I know our members support the Friends for different reasons but I know that we would all grieve if they fell into disrepair, that we want to show respect to those who built and cared for our churches over the centuries and because they enhance our lives and lift our souls.