The main purpose of FoSM is to raise funds for the restoration and maintenance of St Mary's Church and its surrounds.
The church dates from the 13th century and as a listed building of significant historic importance it is in constant need of work to preserve it in a satisfactory state. Something over £100k is needed over the next 4 to 5 years 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.
Accordingly FoSM was set up as a small charity in 2011 in order to try and help by raising funds from the wider community. 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.
So far FoSM has raised over £20k through individual donations, future pledges 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 themes such as wine tasting, tea in a summer marquee with music and a quiz and curry evening.
FoSM has already committed over £5000 of funds raised to date for repair and maintenance projects needed by the church and regularly considers others proposed by the Parochial Church Council. This has included the restoration of the Celtic Cross on the roof which was in a dangerous state.
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 volunteers 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 then please contact FoSM on the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Harvey, Chairman, May 2014