Near record attendance for Society’s 48th AGM at Seething – minutes of meeting

The 48th Annual General Meeting of the Round Tower Churches Society was held at Seething & Mundham village hall on Saturday, 7th May 2022 at 2.15pm.

1. The chairman, Mr Stuart Bowell, welcomed the 32 present, many old friends and also some new faces, to the meeting. He introduced the members of the committee. The Rev’d Philip Gray kindly gave an opening prayer.

2. Apologies had been received as recorded in the Minute Book. [Ms  K Davey, Mr G  Hughes, Mr A Harrowven, Ms J Hanson, Mr & Mrs R Batty,  Mr J Scales, Mr & Mrs D Jackson, Mr M Coates].

3. The Minutes of the 47th AGM on 25.9.2021 were agreed, following a proposal by the Rev’d P Gray, seconded Mrs Butcher, and signed.

4. The chairman thanked Mrs Stilgoe, who had retired from being an RTCS Trustee (for the Charity Commission) after 30 years in post, although she will continue as secretary and tour organiser. There are now two additional new trustees, Ms Davey and Mr Pollitt, to continue the work, with Mr Wiggin and Mr Chapman as well as himself.  He commented on the changes in the world due to Covid restrictions over the three years since the last May AGM, but thought maybe the Society could help to give stability with an unchanging, worthwhile project. He gave sincere thanks to everyone for their continued loyal support and generosity.

5. The treasurer, Mr Nik Chapman, presented the accounts, showing the Society was in a healthy financial position: income had increased to £21,758, expenditure was £6,292, overall funds £128,298.  Without the church tours there were no donations to churches after visits, and although many repair programmes were in the pipeline, the start had been delayed in several cases, hence fewer grants given. Inevitably the magazine and postage costs have risen, and will continue to do so. The accounts were accepted following a proposal by Mr Barham, seconded by Mrs Rowe, and agreed.

6. The grants officer, Mr Nick Wiggin, reported that few grants had been given, due to problems with fund raising and restrictions on building work due to Covid. In 2021 only £2,500 was given, but by the end of March the Society had promised grants totalling £47,000 to be paid once work has started. He was particularly glad to report that work had now started on Mutford’s tower, in serious danger of collapse, (a grant of £7,000 to cover the cost of the scaffolding). His report was accepted, following a proposal from the Rev’d P Gray, seconded Mr K Scales. Mr Pollitt gave an update on Beachamwell Church, burnt down in February this year, which will probably be rebuilt. As membership secretary, Mr Wiggin was very grateful that so many renewed their subscriptions with additional donations. There are now 487 members, with 41 new ones in the year to March, though sadly some long term members are no longer with us. The report was agreed following a proposal from Mr Harrild, seconded Mr Randall.

7. Publicity: Mr Pollitt said the colour magazine continues to be well received. There is a new publicity leaflet, highlighting that next year the Society will have existed for 50 years. Members can now join on line. Mr Bowell expressed very grateful thanks to the team producing the magazine, leaflets and website.

8. Election of Officers and Committee: Mr Pollitt took the chair for votes for the chairman, and Mr Bowell was re-elected (Mr Barham, Mr Rowlands). Other elections: vice chairman: Mr Pollitt (the Rev’d P Gray, Mr K Scales), secretary: Mrs Stilgoe (Mrs Holden, Mr Randall), treasurer: Mr Chapman, (Mr Pollitt, Mr Barham), grants officer: Mr Wiggin (Mr Pollitt, Mrs Roy), membership secretary: Mr Wiggin (Mr Chapman, Mr Pollitt), committee member: Ms Davey (Mrs Stilgoe, Mr Chapman)

9. Independent Examiner: Mr Chapman explained that Mr McArdle had kindly examined the accounts for free, and he hoped Mr McArdle would continue, though in the future the Society may have to pay for an accountant to audit the accounts.

10. Any Other Business: there will be a study day on Saturday 22nd October 2022 at Rickinghall Village Hall, 10am-4pm, with two of three speakers lined up: Mrs Ruth Blackman (Architect) and Mr Neil Wiffen (Essex Local Historian). Mrs Bickmore gave notice of events raising money for Geldeston Church 22nd May and 27th June, details on website. The Church Tours planned for 2020 will take place this summer.

After the meeting, Seething P.C.C. kindly provided refreshments.