Annual Report

The ecclesiastical parish of Fen Drayton with Fenstanton
(charity number 1173597)

Annual report and financial statements of the PCC 
Year ending 31 December 2018

Incumbent
The Revd Canon E.B.B. Atling
Ash Meadow 
Meadow Lane 
Hemingford Abbots  PE28 9AR
(Bank) Barclays Bank
The Pavement
St Ives PE27 5AQ

Inspecting architect
 

 

Ashley Courtney, RIBA, AABC
36 Roseford Road
Cambridge CB4 2HD

 

Aims and objectives

 

 

 

 

 

 

The PCC has the responsibility, in co-operation with the incumbent, of promoting the whole mission of the church in the parish and the administration of the necessary funds of both the church and the Church Centre.

Fenstanton’s mission statement, as adopted in 2011, requires us: “To grow and develop our Christian faith in our community.” The Diocese of Ely requires us to pray to be generous and visible people of Jesus Christ.

Membership of the PCC

(from June 2018)

 

Vicar

Rev Canon Brian Atling (ex officio)

Chairman

Licensed Lay Ministers


Harvey Marshall (part-year) (ex officio)
Dr Michael Ingham (ex officio)
Niki Whitby (ex officio) from October 2018
Vice-chairman


Churchwardens

Philip Blunt (ex officio) 
Ian Hucklesby(ex officio)

 

Deanery Synod representatives (to 2020)

Jane Blunt(ex officio)
Philip Blunt (ex officio)

 

Sub-warden
Phil Christie (ex officio) 
 
Elected to April 2019

 

Julia Mitchell
Keith Page
Keith White
Paul Housego 

 

Elected to 2020

 

Ray Whitby
Katie Hucklesby 
Faith Johnson 
(vacancy)

 

Elected to 2021

 

Stephen Wilson
Lorraine Orbell
Gwen Tucker 
Majorie Walker (resigned Sept 2018)

 

Appointed

Ian MacKellar (also ex officio as 
diocesan synod lay member)

Secretary

 

Christine Harris (ex officio)

Treasurer

 

Church officers Hon electoral roll officer Anne Groome
  Organists and choirmasters  (Fenstanton) Keith Page
                                            (Fen Drayton) Alex Jaggs
  Bell Captain                           (Fenstanton) Keith Page
  Envelope scheme co-ordinator Julia Mitchell
  Flower arranging                   (Fenstanton) Angie Birchnall
  Hon sacristan IanHucklesby
  Hon vergers
Jane Blunt 
Philip Blunt 
Barrie Ashworth
  Children & families co-ordinator Katie Hucklesby
  Safeguarding co-ordinator Amanda Howard
  Stewardship Officer Keith White
  Sidesmen, readers rota compiler Joy Saunders
  Church Centre bookings Pam Hucklesby
  Website administrator Keith Page
  Social Media co-ordinator Paul Garnell
  Health & safety officer Ian MacKellar
  Fire officer Harvey Marshall

 

Overview

Vicar’s report
Revd Canon Brian Atling

Dear Friends

In the following pages you will be able to read of not only many of the activities undertaken in 2018 but reports on the state of the fabric of our two churches and the finances.

As you will see, even though only a glimpse of the many and varied activities undertaken can be seen from the reports, 2018 was a very busy year. We were able to raise very significant sums for charity, continue to build on our work with families and young people and extend our programme of visiting and keeping in touch. We are fortunate to enjoy good relations with the schools located in our villages, which afford lots of opportunities to undertake activities together. We are also very fortunate to be able to work and worship with our United Reformed Church friends.

During the year a considerable amount of work was undertaken on Fenstanton Church, and much thought and planning given to what needs to be done to bring the ancient and beautiful church of St Mary in Fen Drayton to a modern and fully-refurbished state. The hope is that St Mary’s can be altered so that it not only provides the facilities that are expected and needed in all public buildings in the 21st century but, as important, the church will become an amenity for events and functions for the whole village. Let me say immediately that there is no intention at all of seeking to either attract bookings that should more properly be with the village hall or to seek to compete in any way. The aim would be to offer an additional venue in particular for events that it would not be economic for the village hall to stage.

Many of you will be aware that we began the year with the two parishes of Fenstanton and Fen Drayton working together following the latter’s migration from the Cambridge Archdeaconry after the dissolution of the benefice of which the Revd John Yule had been the Vicar. As a result of a Pastoral Scheme involving a lengthy period of consultation, the two parishes became one parish, thus having the facility to share resources and reduce the levels of administrative overhead.

This reorganisation was followed by a further period of consultation with the neighbouring parishes of the Hemingfords to seek to establish whether a working arrangement could be agreed whereby all the parishes could benefit by a larger team of Ministers, the administration office in Hemingford Grey and sundry other advantages. After a number of meetings, we identified very many areas of common interest and of course beliefs, but late in the year a decision was reached that, at least at this stage, we were not quite ready for such progress. This decision having been arrived at, it meant that we now had a clear vision for the parish and we could begin to look for a new priest to lead the parish who would divide their time half on parish responsibilities and half as a pioneer minister working with the new housing developments, both in the two villages and also in the surrounding parishes alongside the parish priests.

I am delighted to report that in April 2019 an appointment has been made, and the Revd Rosie Tallowin and her husband Vic will be coming to lead the parish in a few months’ time. While a provisional date for the licensing has been set, this has yet to be confirmed. However, in due course details of this exciting event will be circulated as soon as it is firm, and, of course, all are welcome.

Can I, in conclusion, thank everyone who has worked so hard to make 2018 such an enjoyable and successful year?

May God bless you all.

Brian

 

Churchwardens’ commentary

Philip Blunt and Ian Hucklesby, wardens, and Phil Christie, sub-warden

If we thought 2017 was an eventful year culminating in the resignation of Robin McKenzie, our priest-in-charge, then 2018 could be described more as a roller-coaster for the parish. Not only has our interregnum continued throughout the year but in the process we have seen the successful merging of St Mary’s, Fen Drayton, with St Peter and St Paul, Fenstanton, and the continuation of further discussions on a wider merger with the Hemingfords benefice, which eventually fell through. The good will of the congregations of Fen Drayton and Fenstanton parish churches leading up to the merger of the parishes in June 2018 has been a key and most gratifying factor in the orderly transition to a new benefice and continues to underpin the work we do jointly in God’s name.

We now find ourselves well on the way to welcoming a new vicar for our new single benefice of Fen Drayton with Fenstanton with the added, exciting prospect of the new incumbent being given a remit to act as a pioneer minister in the wider, neighbouring communities. Apart from these developments, we have been able to maintain our worship and other activities at both churches, thanks to the continuing and unstinting support of our Rural Dean (Revd Canon Brian Atling) who has been our priest-in-charge during the interregnum, and the retired clergy in the deanery, notably Canon Jonathan Young and Revd Dr Clifford Owen, who have regularly taken our Sunday Eucharists and other services. We are also indebted to Geoff Dodgson (LLM) who has taken most of our Evensong services and to our own LLMs and lay team who have stepped up to take on the added responsibilities that have inevitably arisen during the interregnum. It has been a particular pleasure to see Niki Whitby licensed to our parish as a new LLM at Ely Cathedral in October with the support of many of the church family.

The following report is testimony to the continuing vibrancy and dynamism of the church and the PCC. It is a particular pleasure to note that our children’s and young people’s ministry continues to thrive as a result of tireless input by Katie Hucklesby, Kate Tuplin, Gwen and Paul Tucker and the members of the Children’s Work Group. The presence and involvement of children at our worship services continues to be a feature that is frequently remarked on in positive terms by visitors and regular members of the congregation alike.

The formation of a new PCC in June affords an opportunity to express our thanks for the service given by the outgoing PCC members. From Fen Drayton, we are indebted to Judith Christie and Lydia Collins for their enormous contributions to the work of the church over the previous 25 years and more. We also express our thanks to Marjorie Walker for her willingness to serve on the enlarged PCC and regret with sadness the bereavement that required her withdrawal. Equally, we are grateful to all who have agreed to continue on the new PCC, and we welcome the new members who have joined the team.

It is also very reassuring to note that our finances are in good order and in the hands of a most capable treasurer – Christine Harris. Our previous treasurer (Janice Addison) stood down as PCC treasurer at the formation of the new combined benefice after eight years of invaluable service and we are grateful that she continues do the accounts for the Church Centre. An extended hand-over then took place to the extent that Christine is now fully in charge of the parish’s finances, aided and supported by Lorraine Orbell, acting Treasurer for Fen Drayton. Christine’s report below seriously understates the huge amount of effort she has put in to familiarise herself with the parish accounts, oversee the establishment of new bank accounts to suit the combined parish, ensure that account signatories are amended to suit the new PCC structure, as well as the on-going work, together with Lorraine, of melding the separate parish accounts into a single entity. We believe we cannot overstate our thanks to them both.

Much of the work that we do would not be possible without the dedication and commitment of our Secretary – Ian MacKellar. Apart from his wider diocesan duties, Ian manages the planning and paperwork for our PCC meetings, produces our weekly notices sheet (an invaluable service for keeping the congregation in touch) and ensures that we comply with Charity Commission requirements, to name but a few of the countless jobs he undertakes for the parish. We are greatly indebted to him.

Finally, we would again like to thank the many people in our parish who give their time and talents to help in the life and work of our churches, whether it be those who volunteer for church/churchyard cleaning and maintenance parties, those who decorate our churches with beautiful flowers, those who serve refreshments after our services and prepare delicious cakes and teas for us, those who print our notices, fliers and orders of service, our organists, band leader, musicians, choristers and bell ringers, our sidesmen and women, our sacristan and team of servers, our verger team, the church unlocking and locking team, those who organise and help with Sunday Club, God’s Gang, TC, Jaffa Club and regular school ministry at Fenstanton and Hilton Primary School, the pastoral visitor team, those who organise our house groups, those who collect, count and bank our money, those who serve on the Church Centre committee and maintain and manage the Centre, those on the Restoration Committee and their indefatigable helpers at fund-raising events, those on the Fabric Committee who help to maintain the churches in good order, our Electoral Roll Officer and the Community Fund Committee. This is a formidable body of talent and dedication, which is why, with the help of our faith, we have been able to weather more than a year of interregnum and, hopefully, remain smiling.

 

 Review of PCC activity 2018
Secretary: Ian MacKellar

This report covers the activities of three PCCs: Fen Drayton PCC and Fenstanton PCC from January to May 2018, and the new Fen Drayton with Fenstanton PCC following its establishment by episcopal measure on 1 June 2018.

Fen Drayton PCC
The Parochial Church Council met on three occasions during 2018: on 5th February, 5th April and finally on 29th May with meeting venues in church and Teal Cottage as temperatures permitted.

Noteworthy events held during the year included:

  • convivial joint services with Fenstanton on the fifth Sunday of a month;

  • Mothering Sunday activities led by God’s Gang, followed by a service in church;

  • a very moving Good Friday service of Contemplation with Michael Ingham leading our thoughts in peripatetic services in both Fen Drayton andFenstanton;

  • lively and welcoming joint social events with FenstantonPCC.

‘God’s Gang’ continues to meet in the village hall on the first Sunday of the month, providing fun and food for families, and a warm welcome with great activities.

Fenstanton PCC
The council met four times between January and April 2018, as well as convening a ‘virtual’ meeting to underwrite a grant application for urgent drainage works in the churchyard. Attendance remained at the usual high level.

Although the final months of the council’s existence owed much to preparation for the new PCC and the prospect of recruiting a new priest, there was still a church and parish to be run. In particular, restoration work on the Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown memorial in the chancel required closing off almost half the church building for three months, with organ restoration work being carried out simultaneously. Luckily, a partial re-opening of the chancel was possible for the visit of the Bishop of Ely on 6 March for the Confirmation of six young people and one adult from Fenstanton and another candidate from Swavesey. Feedback from Bishop’s Council indicated that Bishop Stephen had enjoyed his visit and had been made to feel very welcome at the service and the reception afterwards in the Church Centre.

The PCC had also continued its work on its Development Action Plan – the key activities being the success of the link with Fen Drayton, improvements to funeral arrangements, development of the children’s church and support for activities involving those approaching adulthood.

Moreover, the council ensured that it would be in a position to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation when it came into force on 25 May of that year, and to be compliant with diocesan requirements on safeguarding training.

Although the Vicarage remains the responsibility of the diocese, the PCC had an interest in the future of the adjacent (listed) barn and the proposed re-design to accommodate a future incumbent. As it happened, Huntingdonshire District Council’s conservation and planning departments proved resistant to the proposals, and further plans are contemplated.

Preparing for the future, the two PCCs’ representatives collaborated to ensure that ‘process’ issues did not impede the creation and effective administration of the new parish’s council from June onwards. At the same time, we continued exploration of a proposed link with the two Hemingfords parishes.

The council’s last actions included agreement that the final batch of records of its work be deposited with the County Archivist at Huntingdon Records Office.

Fen Drayton with Fenstanton PCC
The PCC met six times in 2018, with an average attendance of around 90 per cent.
The good will generated by the proposal to amalgamate our two component parishes, along with the preparatory work done by the PCCs, was rewarded by a turnout of more than 50 people at the inaugural meeting in June 2018. With around 125 names on the newly- combined Electoral Roll, the meeting was able to add 12 elected representatives – six from each of the component parishes – to join the eight who were members by virtue of their offices as ministers, wardens and synod representatives. Although the PCC is large, it has not so far proved unwieldy (though it is sometimes combative), and the elected representatives outnumber those who qualify ex officio. (Unfortunately, one elected member subsequently resigned following the untimely death of a near relative.) The casual vacancy was not filled and remains outstanding to the 2019 APCM.

As well as effectively transferring the Charity Commission registration of the former Fenstanton PCC to the new council, the new PCC agreed to manage its business on the basis of a committee structure scrutinised by the full council. Four committees were established – Pastoral, Children & Young People, Fabric, and Finance – with their four chairmen also being members of the Parish Management Committee (along with the Priest-in-charge, wardens, treasurer and secretary).

The council continued work on exploring the proposed link with the Hemingfords (abandoned, at least for the foreseeable future, by the Revd Peter Cunliffe, their vicar, later in the year) and on developing a parish profile that would become part of the recruitment process in the search for a new half-time priest for the benefice of Fen Drayton with Fenstanton, a post to be combined with a half-time pioneering rôle in our parish and neighbouring ones, such as Godmanchester (which is also seeing considerable housing growth). To accommodate the new appointment both churches amended their service patterns.

The new council adopted a suite of governance policies, as well as vigorously pursuing safeguarding and data protection compliance. It also began the process (completed in early 2019) of aligning bank accounts with a single bank.

Following an open meeting in October, entitled Setting God’s people free, the PCC agreed to a suite of initiatives, yet to be fully implemented, to improve engagement with people whose workaday tasks are often deemed ‘less worthy’ than, for example, carers or healthcare professionals. The council also agreed to pray for residents of the communities, street by street, according to a rota yet to be devised.

The PCC also wrote to the Chief Constable seeking action on alleged racial abuse and harassment of villagers in and about the subway beneath the A14 in Hilton Road, Fenstanton.

We were thankful for the ministry of the former Bishop of Huntingdon, the Rt Revd David Thomson, who has been a great friend to this parish in recent years. So we were pleased to have been able to invite him and his wife, Jean, to be our guests at our Pimm’s and Pâté event shortly before their retirement to Hereford in the autumn.

As a general comment, I have been heartened by the enthusiasm of folk from both parishes to make the new arrangements work as seamlessly as possible, even when it involved disruption to established routines, and to be receptive to new ideas. I am very optimistic for our future.

Reports from committees

Pastoral Committee
Chairman: Revd Canon Brian Atling

Virtually everything we do in this parish has a pastoral element. For the purposes of this report, however, we have separated matters that bear on the spiritual life of the congregation and communities – other than those involving future generations, for which we make additional and special provision (Children’s Work Group) – from our financial and community responsibilities for maintenance of our church buildings (Fabric) and funding the clerical ministry (Finance). This deals with those other matters.

Ministry
We were blessed during the year by a combination of the willingness of two retired priests in particular to lead services and for the help of four licensed lay ministers. Canon Jonathan Young and the Revd Clifford Owen, who each take at least one service a month, have both become part of our worshipping community, along with their wives, Sue and Avis. We have had the additional benison of no fewer than four LLMs and our own tame ordinand. Our stalwart Harvey Marshall has continued to lead such services of Holy Communion by extension as the Bishop has allowed, as well as to comfort bereaved families with sensitive funeral services in church and at the crematorium. Although not licensed to this parish, Geoff Dodgson has presided regularly at Evensong and is a reliable supporter of our new parish through his influence at the diocese. Michael Ingham is an occasional and inspirational preacher, who has also prepared candidates for confirmation. He led our Good Friday devotion in 2018, beginning in Fen Drayton (see first figure) and concluding, following a walk with the Cross, in Fenstanton. And our new star, Niki Whitby, to whom, after her licensing by Bishop Rowan Williams, I presented her blue stole in Ely Cathedral in October 2018 (to the acclamation of scores of members of the congregation there present) has been at the apex of bringing our two churches’ congregations together.

Melding the two former parishes has been a gradual process. We have sought neither to force it nor to influence it. Nonetheless, some folk from Fen Drayton have come to worship happily in Fenstanton, and several from Fenstanton have found St Mary’s a holy, if chilly, refuge.

Weddings
While we have not had the joy of a wedding at St Mary’s since 2016, two couples made their matrimonial vows at the parish church of St Peter and St Paul, Fenstanton, during 2018.

Visiting group
The group, consisting of seven members of the congregation, has a list of 132 people regularly thought of, prayed for and invited to church social events as deemed appropriate. Visits are made to those who are house-bound, seriously sick at home or in hospital.
Currently, one person regularly receives Holy Communion at home.

Development Action Plan
We inherited four strands of Fenstanton’s DAP, though the new PCC did not address a new plan during 2018. I hope that will feature in next year’s report. A key workstream of the Fenstanton plan, however, was to implement the parochial merger as seamlessly as possible. That seems to have worked quite well. Other elements were improvements to treatment of bereaved families and support for both the children’s church and older young people’s activities.

Diocesan and Deanery Synods
PCC receives regular reports from the wider church in the hope of improving understanding of the Church of England beyond our parish boundaries. This is starting to bear fruit, with the imminent adoption of Giving for Life, a scheme to index-link planned giving, and the deployment of card-readers in the pews to reflect the growing trend towards a cashless society. Our congregations seem to be taking greater interest in what is going on in the wider CofE, particularly in initiatives to make parishes more relevant to the secular communities they serve.

House-groups
Our two house-groups continue to be popular. Emmaus, an ecumenical group, drawing members from at least five places of worship, that meets every couple of weeks on Sunday evenings for bible study, discussion, reflection and prayer, attracts between five and 12 members to each session. The Wednesday House Group continued to meet approximately monthly, with four to eight people attending regularly. The meetings typically included listening to a piece of music, a bible reading, discussion of the main topic in it and, at the end of the session, prayer for particular needs in the community and the wider world.

Ecumenical
The Churches Together group continues to meet about twice a year with members of the URC to co-ordinate calendars and to plan joint services that were held in January at the URC during the week of prayer for Christian unity, in the parish church in May at the start of Christian Aid week and in November for Remembrance Sunday at the parish church (which was also led by the parish church this year). Discussions initiated in 2018 led organisation of an ecumenical Lent course in 2019.

Charitable giving
For some years, rather than giving small sums to many charities, Fenstanton church has chosen a ‘parish charity’ – alternately UK-based and with predominantly overseas activities. The choice for 2018 was Mercy Ships, to which we donated a total of £3,047 to support ship- based medical and surgical services provided in ports in west Africa to communities without the level of care we expect from the NHS. Like the Church Urban Fund in 2017, Mercy Ships made it easy for the congregation to understand how the money was used, through supporting materials and a fascinating presentation in church. The charity chosen for 2019 is the Coroners’ Courts Support Service. In addition, the PCC is committed to continuing support (£100 a month) for AquAid Lifeline in Malawi, a charity of which Josie Charter is trustee.

She visits regularly and brings back informative and amusing commentaries. In addition, we have supported the Children’s Society (Christingle), the Poppy Appeal (Remembrance Sunday) and the emergency Christian Aid Kerala Appeal to a combined tune of £860.

Community Fund
This was established in Fenstanton some years ago and has been extended by the new PCC to offer support to needy people in Fen Drayton who do not qualify for conventional grant aid. Unusually, the Fund made no awards during 2018, but publicity materials are being updated.

Welcome Pack
The pack, designed to point new residents towards local services and introduce them to our churches, was little used in 2018 but is now being revived following extension to Fen Drayton. Packs will be distributed to all homes in Fen Drayton and to all new homes in Fenstanton – and to existing homes with new residents.

Choir
The choir prepared special music to be sung at Fenstanton for three choral evensongs, Easter Day, one wedding and the Service of Readings & Carols for Christmas. It was good to support Hilton at its Flower Festival, which ended with a Sung Evensong. We also supported choirs at Swavesey and Hemingford Abbots and welcomed their singers to services at Fenstanton. We strive to maintain a moderate standard of musicianship and encompass a wide range of church music.

Bells
More than 20 visitors, including members of the Fenstanton widows’ group, witnessed the ringing in of the new year at St Peter and St Paul, where a strong corps of 14 ringers ensures ringing before every Sunday morning service. Four successful quarter peals (around 45 minutes, including 1,260 changes) were rung by members of our group at various local churches for special occasions. Monday ringing continues on a monthly rota, taking in Hilton, Houghton, Fenstanton and Holywell. The beginners/learners practice night on Tuesdays continues to flourish. New ringers are welcome, of course.

Publicity
The Fenstanton church website, http://www.fenstantonparishchurch.org.uk, includes the latest rotas used for serving and reading, but otherwise contains only such news and pictures as are supplied to the webmaster. The Fen Drayton service calendar and events can be found on A Church Near You, https://www.achurchnearyou.com/church/2835/.

Children and Young People Group
Leader: Katie Hucklesby

The Children’s Work Group members seek to engage with our younger church members to grow and develop their Christian understanding and faith through small age-appropriate groups, informal lay-led worship and special family events. Below is a summary of some of our activities this past year, though much more is undertaken to encourage and support our young people.

Fenstanton activities
The team has grown this year and other adult volunteers have joined to help at Sunday Club, Worship for All and Festival Workshops etc. Our last workshop at Christmas welcomed a mix of children from both villages. The Fenstanton team plans to meet with the team from Fen Drayton church early in 2019 to share and review what we are all doing. In Fenstanton the team prepare each week for either a service or Sunday Club and mid-week sessions and in a busy week could be preparing for four different sessions in four different settings.

At Fenstanton, we now have 23 families and 44 children and young people who regularly worship with us on a Sunday. Six other children join us at our midweek events/worship.

Sunday Club continues to meet on first, third and fifth Sundays with sessions being (partly) split to provide age-appropriate activities for children attending who are aged between two and 14.

A main ministry focus of the group is our monthly Worship for All services. The service is lay-led, the reading presented as a simple drama or perhaps with the children doing actions or sounds, and our young people are encouraged to write and read prayers or the very youngest help take the collection or hold up objects to illustrate the intercessions. Other children play in the band.

Attendance figures remain good: on Mothering Sunday we had 32 children and 66 adults in church and there is usually a fabulous atmosphere in church afterwards as refreshments are devoured, conversations shared and support offered. A reordering of the back of the church should enhance this further.

CWG team continues to lead the presentation of the Gospel at our Family Communion services and provide activities to enable the children to learn alongside the adults in church. Families or groups within the church lead the intercessions.

The start time of Worship for All and family Communions was moved to 10:30am from December, and this is to be monitored and reviewed by PCC.

Our links and ministry with Fenstanton school are well established with the head teacher and deputy now being in place for over a year. We facilitate whole school services in church at Easter and Christmas and lead smaller sessions or an assembly in school at least once a term.

It was a delight that six of our young people were confirmed by Bishop Stephen in March, and TC continues to meet on Fridays. There is a core group of 8-12 young people. Last term, we looked at some of the core tenets of our faith, including the importance of the Bible and prayer. During the first term of 2019, the group will be looking at Joseph from the Old Testament. We will have games, challenges and crafts. As leader, Kate Tuplin is very much looking forward to exploring Genesis with our young people.

Fen Drayton January to May 2018
God’s Gang has continued to meet monthly this year, primarily in Fen Drayton village hall. We have an established core group of loyal helpers and participants, which has created a real sense of family and community within the group. Others have been most welcome to join us on a more ad hoc basis. The support of our friends from our neighbouring church in Fenstanton has been greatly appreciated.

The themes for the first part of the year have been ‘God and light’, ‘Spring and growing’, ‘What is love?’ for Mother's Day and finally ‘Being brave’. We have had fun with activities such as planting seeds and bulbs, making torches and slings, and also decorating (and eating!) lots of biscuits and cakes. On Easter Day we enjoyed a lovely family service in Fen Drayton church with the local school choir, including crafts and an Easter egg hunt.

Fen Drayton June to December 2018From June, when Fen Drayton parish officially joined with Fenstanton, God’s Gang has continued to meet monthly in Fen Drayton for ‘Family fun and food’ with the help, support and encouragement of members from both churches. In June we were ‘Thinking of fathers’ and then decamped to Fenstanton in July to enjoy a sunny afternoon poolside, courtesy of Joy’s kind invitation. Several of us also enjoyed a sunny trip to the seaside with family from the parish at the end of July. Following a summer break in August we started the new school year in September by looking at ‘Trust and new beginnings’. We celebrated ‘Harvest and God’s good gifts to us’ in October in church with the school choir, conker crafts and cake decorating. We enjoyed fireworks again in November and made our own fizz bomb rockets while exploring the theme of ‘Obedience’. God’s Gang ended the year with a joint Christingle service in Fenstanton, followed by a delicious tea!

Fabric Committee
Chairman: Philip Blunt

The Fabric Committee started the year with seven members continuing from the previous year. Membership increased to nine following the amalgamation with Fen Drayton parish in June 2018, when Paul Housego and Phil Christie joined the committee. There were three meetings of the committee before amalgamation on 1 June 2018 and three thereafter. The inclusion of St Mary’s in Fen Drayton as a ‘daughter’ church in the new parish adds a new dimension to the work of the committee. Also, the governance structure adopted with the amalgamation of the two parishes means that the Church Centre and fund-raising committees are now incorporated as part of the Fabric Committee although, in practice, operating autonomously.

Fenstanton Church
As noted in the Secretary’s report, for the first two months of 2018 the chancel of the church was screened off from the nave while work on restoration of the ‘Capability’ Brown memorial in the chancel, which started on 2 January, was carried out. Having dismantled the monument, the restorer was in a position to recommend further simplification to the restoration. This was agreed by the Church Buildings Council and the Diocesan Advisory Committee and led to a reduction in the final cost of the work, which was essentially completed by mid-March 2018 at a final cost of £24,195 + VAT (some £3,500 less than the original estimate). VAT was recovered through the Listed Places of Worship Grant scheme.

We took advantage of the closure of the chancel for the refurbishment of the Brown memorial to carry out the planned restoration of the organ, which would have been unavailable for use in any case as a result of the chancel closure. Most of the restoration work was carried out at the restorer’s workshop so was not affected by dust and disturbance from the Brown memorial restoration work. Restoration of the organ was completed by Pipe Organ Services (who have been carrying out routine maintenance on the organ for many years) at a cost of £17,500 + VAT in April 2019, although some snagging problems persisted until September 2018 due mainly to indisposition of POS’s director.

The church architect had been commissioned in late 2017 to prepare tender documents for priority works arising from the 2016 quinquennial inspection relating to underground rainwater drainage and the dampness affecting the east wall of the north aisle, which has become very unsightly with flaking plaster. Tenders for the work were obtained in early February 2018 and a Faculty was obtained in August 2018. Grants of £5,000 and £1,000 towards the cost of the works were obtained from ChurchCare and All Churches Trust respectively, enabling us to proceed with the works, with a contract being signed with the preferred contractor in November 2018. Unfortunately, the contractor’s work commitments and the need for warmer weather to carry out some of the works involving lime cement meant a delay to the start of works until April 2019.

In September, probably as a result of the hot dry summer, substantial pieces of plaster and masonry started to drop from high positions in the nave walls at the tower and chancel arches onto the nave floor below. This required urgent action for safety reasons and, as a temporary measure, the affected areas were marked with hazard tape and warning notices were displayed to avoid these areas. Later (in early December) a mechanical lift was hired with a licensed operator to carry out high level remedial works to prevent further falls. The unusually hot dry summer may also have contributed to the appearance of substantial cracks in the masonry of the tower and vestries. These are being monitored for movement.

Normal routine maintenance and cleaning were carried out as well as repairs to the bell rope guide frame which was damaged by vandalism in the summer.

Fen Drayton Church
Following diagnosis of a failed gutter in October 2017, the nave roof and steeple were inspected thoroughly by the architect and sub- warden in February 2018. Ponded water has leaked through the gutter onto the underlying timbers over some years, affecting roof plate and stonework in several places. The architect responded quickly to secure a temporary repair to the roof, which has stopped further water entry for the time being. A comprehensive list of repairs has been drawn up by the architect, together with outline plans for improving the church with a heating system, WC and kitchen servery. These would considerably improve the amenity of the church both as a place of

comfortable worship and as a village community asset. A budgetary number for the repair and improvement project is well in excess of £250,000, which will require substantial funds from grant applications. Contacts have been made with Fen Drayton Parish Council, Christ’s College (Lay Rectors and Patrons) and the Diocesan Heritage Buildings Officer over a number of site meetings. A key step will be gaining ‘Heritage at Risk’ status for the grade II* building and in establishing a vision for the church as a community asset. The sub-warden has agreed to work with the Parish Council to develop a consultation process for the village and the church, and further meetings are planned with the diocese to include the church building on the register. Tell-tale monitoring of cracks in the chancel arch show little or no movement over the past 3.5 years.

The churchyard has benefited from a replacement tap on the water standpipe, and repairs and maintenance to the storage shed.

Church Centre
Fenstanton Church Centre continues to be an asset much valued not only by the church community but also by the clubs and activities held for villagers and the steady stream of bookings for family celebrations, etc. As a church, we use the building weekly for children’s activities, meetings and for regular social and charity fundraising events.

The Fenstanton branch of the WI part-funded a new external wooden notice board to mark its 100th anniversary year in the village.

The Church Centre received a donation of £250 from Kier Living which we hope to put towards the installation of wi-fi into the Centre.

Restoration Appeal
During 2018 the Restoration committee has organised four fundraising social events as well as the house-to-house envelope collection to every house in the village in September. (This raised £2,356.23 plus gift aid). Three events (Wild West Murder Mystery and supper, Pimm’s and Pâté and Mulled Wine) raised a total of £2,238.00. The Open Gardens weekend raised

£2,077.10 plus a further £69 for Bells. It is worth mentioning that more people are looking to pay online for tickets etc and we will need to look at the best way to enable that for larger numbers. These social events are well supported by our Church family, the wider village and beyond and help to build the sense of community that we all enjoy. We are most grateful to the kind hosts who freely open their homes and gardens to us. Events such as these require a lot of detailed planning and organisation and we are grateful to the committee for all they have done to help make them a success. Phil Christie, from Fen Drayton has joined the committee to discuss how we might move forward with similar fundraising specific to St Mary’s, Fen Drayton.

General Fundraising
The team has organised three lunches this past year, in aid of Fenstanton church’s chosen charity, Mercy Ships. The lunches attract regular church members from both our churches and villagers alike. The Lent Lunch raised £354.44, the Harvest Lunch £650.03 and the total raised at the Christmas Lunch was £677.18, making a grand total of £1,681.65 for Mercy Ships. Each occasion had a friendly, social atmosphere and the meals seem to be much appreciated. New members or helpers are very welcome to join us.

 

Finance Committee
Treasurer: Christine Harris

Our new treasurer seems to have survived her baptism with the support of the small committee she has gathered to help. The details are in the financial statements attached.  There have been some changes, such as the introduction of online payments, streamlining of financial control and better documentation of decisions. Her next tasks will be to persuade the PCC and congregation of the benefits of index-linking their giving through Giving for Life arrangements and the introduction of a credit/debit card reader system.

Parish share and general finances
Both churches’ contributions to the cost of ministry have been paid in full, in spite of an increase of more than nine per cent over 2017. As can be seen, the accounts of both churches were kept separate during 2018 for accounting convenience and to ensure transparency of comparison with previous years. Although restricted funds will, of course, be ring-fenced to whichever church they relate, we shall align the costs of administering the parish, including ministry, from 2019 onwards. Committed giving is a key component of meeting the cost of keeping our churches going, no better illustrated by the addition of almost £8,000 in the year in the return to us of donors’ income tax through Gift Aid. Most of those involved give monthly, one quarterly. Plate collections increased by more than one-third in 2018, to £4,400 from £3,250 in 2017.

Charitable giving
Between collections and fund-raising (£4,280) and PCC donations (£3,587), our churches gave a total of £7,867 to various charities in 2018.

Statistics and administration

Electoral roll and church attendance
The year began with 14 names on the Electoral Roll of St Mary’s and 114 electors in Fenstanton parish. The combination of the rolls in June, making a total of 128, meant the new PCC was entitled to have 12 elected members in addition to those who serve ex officio by virtue of their positions as ministers, churchwardens and members of synods. The roll is, of course, dynamic, with people leaving because of death, house moves or for other reasons, and new members joining. Those numbers were equal over the first seven months of our new parish, so we ended 2018 with 128 names on the electoral roll. Over the full year, taking both parishes together, there was a net loss of three names from the roll/s. A completely new roll will be prepared for 2019 to last until the next full revision in six years’ time. Church attendance, as reflected in the Church of England’s Statistics for Mission, showed healthy growth over 2017, though it is doubtful how much reliance can be placed on returns before 2017.

Occasional offices
In 2018, between the two churches, we had nine baptisms, two marriages and 11 funerals.

PCC policies
The PCC has published policies on many matters of safety and probity, including health and safety, safeguarding, conflicts of interest, data privacy and equal opportunities. All such policies are reviewed annually by the annual parochial meeting.

Health & safety
The health and safety of our congregations, visitors and buildings are discussed at every business meeting of our PCC. Risk assessments are reviewed periodically, particularly if changes are made to buildings or new activities undertaken. There were no notifiable events during 2018.

Safeguarding
Safeguarding of our children and vulnerable adults, in particular – and of less obviously vulnerable people, too – lies at the core of our Christian responsibility. It is discussed at every business meeting of the PCC, all members of which must undergo training in safe guarding awareness. In addition, people involved in regular contact with children and vulnerable adults must complete training and certification to an appropriate level. There were no reportable concerns during 2018, but we remain alert to the risks.

Thanks and acknowledgements

The PCC wishes to thank the following people for their contributions to the churches and parish during 2018:

Canon Jonathan Young, the Revd Clifford Owen and Geoff Dodgson, LLM, for leading our services regularly during the interregnum, for their wisdom, patience and good humour, and their wives – respectively Sue, Avis and Rosemary – for letting the menfolk out to do so and for joining us at services and at parish social events.

Laura Housego for helping to plan services and activities, and Denise Hayles, who transposes lots of music for different instruments to take part in the Fen Band, an important encouragement to our young musicians.

Everyone who helped in the annual churchyard working day at St Mary’s and especially those who have been involved in the day-to-day care and maintenance of the grounds, shed, water supply and bin collections.

All those volunteers on the Church Centre Committee and our volunteer gardeners who help, along with our paid cleaner, to keep the Centre in excellent order week in week out. Many more voluntary hours are spent managing the bookings diary (Pam Hucklesby) and all financial aspects of running the venue (Janice Addison).

Janice Addison for several years as Fenstanton’s PCC treasurer before the formation of our new parish.

Alex Jaggs (and her son Tobias) for playing the organ and sustaining St Mary’s, particularly when Phil Christie is away.

Anne Groome for overseeing another full renewal of the Electoral Roll for the coming six years.

Angie Birchnall for several years in charge of the flower rota at St Peter and St Paul, and Carole Croker for agreeing to take over.

Lisa Jablonska for overseeing arrangements for banns and marriages.

 

Approved by the PCC on 19 March 2019

 

Revd Canon Brian Atling
Priest-in-charge