Society in sound financial position and has given about £50,000 for church repairs

A combination of a legacy and a marked reduction in grants to churches boosted the Society’s total funds by more than £15,000.

Nik Chapman, treasurer, presented the annual accounts for the year to March 31, 2022, to an almost record attendance of more than 30 members at Seething village hall on Saturday, May 7.

He said that income had totalled more than £21,000, which included a £5,000 legacy plus a further £2,700 in donations. The subscription income was £11,622 but many members generously paid significantly more than the £20 minimum, hence the rise in donations.

In the year, the Society’s total funds had increased to £128,298.24 It has awarded significant grants to churches for repairs and other conservation works of a total of more than £47,000.

Many of these works had been delayed, partly by the Covid-19 pandemic and for other reasons. These grants will be paid when requested by the churches and would obviously reduce the Society’s funds.

Overall the Society’s expenditure has been reduced during the year, said Mr Chapman. As a result of the cancellation of the 2021 summer programme because of the Covid-19 lock-down legislation, donations had not been made to churches. And again because repair work had been delayed or postponed, the Society had only paid £2,500 to churches against £13,200 in the previous year. Latest grants included £5,000 to Geldeston, £4,000 to Rickinghall and a further £2,000 to Long Stratton making a total of £4,000.

The cost of the magazine including production, design, printing and postage was £3,600 – a modest increase on the previous year of just £200. However, these costs are likely to increase significantly in the coming year because of a 40pc hike for paper, about 20pc for ink and higher postage costs.

The Society has also re-printed 8,000 copies of its recruitment leaflet. The latest leaflet, which also features churches in Essex, Cambridgeshire and Berkshire as well as Norfolk and Suffolk, highlights the Society’s forthcoming golden jubilee. If any members wish to obtain copies to place in round tower churches, please contact the chairman, Stuart Bowell, secretary ‘Lyn Stilgoe or vice-chairman Michael Pollitt.

In closing, Mr Chapman thanked the independent examiner Jason McArdle for casting his eye over the accounts, and said that the Society was in a good financial position.