St. Andrew's church council was upset to realise we had not picked up that the Annual Parish Meeting was taking place on 13 April and so a representative had failed to attend. The meeting came in the middle of the Holy Week Services and we were clearly too focused.
Visually, we had a lovely start to the year with the first display of the mass of daffodils opposite the Church gates given and planted by Walberswick W.I. The most important news to report from 2016 is the conservation work which we were able to undertake on the Ruins through the generosity of £175,000 worth of grants from Historic England (formerly English Heritage) and WREN (the Landfill charity). After a pause while we reclaimed the VAT paid on the project, some final low level work can shortly take place. Stephanie Anderson did sterling work in obtaining those grants, particularly as the work turned out to have been much more urgently needed than we realised. Now water can no longer seep down to destroy brickwork from the inside.
As in other years, a significant part of our regular income has derived from the Village Fete and the Historic Churches Cycle Ride and thanks are due to the organisers, headed by Clive Brynley Jones and Suzzie Godfrey respectively.
We pay our own church tax to cover the costs of our priests. Last year, Simon Pitcher coped alone with our Team of 8 parishes, assisted in taking Services by retired priests including our Brian Fisher and Harry Edwards. Now we can once more boast 2 priests with Alan Perry living in Reydon, and Simon (based in Southwold) can take breath.
New this year: We have held a weekly Lent Group in the Bell pub and we are grateful for their hospitality. Feedback from the participants (about 6) was generally very positive although the refreshments enjoyed appear to have been of a non-alcoholic nature. We also experimented with a charity Tea Party arranged by Di Dawson in aid of the Vellore Hospital and the East Coast Hospice (a very high standard of cake and over 40 participants) and a Soup & Pud lunch arranged by Sarah Lawrence which 48 enjoyed (multiple soups and multiple puds).
At our own annual meeting, in March, Chrissie Reeves stood down after 6 years as churchwarden, as is required by the church rules. We thank her for her supportiveness, gentleness, and good humour. She will not quickly forget turning out at 4am after a call from the roof alarm people, only to find out that the culprits were a pair of fighting (or amorous?) rooks. Johnnie Anderson and Darryl Dawson have now been elected as our churchwardens.
Generally, St. Andrew's has been much in demand for baptisms, weddings, and funerals, though sadly and inevitably always more of the latter. We are enormously grateful to all our helpers. This year, we have happily welcomed John Simpson as the regular locker/unlocker of the church on the departure from the village of Rae Leighton, enabling us to keep open every day. The Visitors' Book shows this is much appreciated, and indeed we hope we are a very welcoming church to all visitors. This is particularly so on the days when we open the Tower for ascents and Wayne Haselgrave makes endless trips up and down with no obvious strain, to the immense enjoyment of those he accompanies.
Julia Josephs, Joanna Saunders