Chairman’s Annual Report 2020

A report on progress of the Trust presented to the 2021 AGM

When I wrote – or rather re-wrote – my Chairman’s Statement last year, we were still in the early stages of the Covid-19 outbreak and no one could have foretold with any degree of certainty how the virus would develop. By mid summer, it appeared that we were perhaps through the worst and although our Annual General Meeting had had to be postponed and all tours, including the Members Tours, cancelled, we were able to hold a rather truncated AGM at Ivychurch in early September. Indeed we were also able to hold two Council meetings – both at Ivychurch – one immediately after the AGM and another at the end of October. Thankfully, in a church of that size,social distancing comes quite easily.
However, twelve months on, the arrival of vaccines gives us all real hope that normal life can be resumed in the not too distant future. We now have clear indications when restrictions will be lifted and our lives can return to something close to normality. Sadly though it will not be possible to hold our AGM in June. I will deal with this and other dates a little later in this Report but firstly, I want to bring you up to date with the Trust’s finances.
I am delighted to welcome David Williams as our new Treasurer. David has considerable experience of the charity sector and as a regular visitor to the Marsh,knows the area well. In a very short time he has got to grips with our accounts and sincere thanks goes to him for producing them in such a timely manner. Turning to the accounts themselves, our investments took something of a hit in the first three months of last year but there has been a strong recovery since then and with the addition of a handsome legacy received just before the end of the year, our total assets at the end of the year stood at the very acceptable level of £850,000, broadly in line with the figure of £856,000 at the end of 2019.
As companies cut or deferred their dividends, income from our investment portfolio fell and of course, with all our tours for the year cancelled, there was no income from that source. On the positive side, lockdowns and the general difficulties involved with visiting people outside family or bubble groups resulted in a significant increase in Christmas card sales with receipts up by almost 50% and virtually all our cards sold out. Once again our thanks go to Elizabeth Marshall for her sterling work in processing all the orders. We are working hard to produce three or possibly four new cards which will be available by mid summer.
For most of the year, day to day management of the Trust has been handled by our Executive Committee, comprising myself, Elizabeth, Nick Hudd, David Hanbury,George Staple and since his arrival as Treasurer, David Williams. I am pleased to be able to report that whilst activity was inevitably at a lower level, grants totalling£61,000 were made during the year, the largest of which were £17,000 to St Clement,Old Romney for internal redecoration and £13,300 to St Peter and St Paul,Newchurch for work following their quinquennial Report. We have budgeted for asimilar level of grants this year but as always, the actual amount will be dependent on the needs of the churches and we stand by ready to help and increase our grants as the need arises.
Recently, we received the very sad news that Mark Skilbeck, a long time member of the Council and Elizabeth Marshall’s predecessor as Secretary of the Trust had died. Mark was a stalwart member of the Trust and his wise counsel and cheerful disposition will be sorely missed. It was largely through Mark’s energy and determination that the major restoration work at St Nicholas, New Romney was completed and all those connected with that magnificent church have cause to be grateful to him. Our condolences and sympathies go to his wife Liz and all his family.
Turning to the immediate future, if everything goes to plan, virtually all restrictions will be lifted by 21 June but as that will mean it will not be possible to hold our Annual General Meeting before then, we have decided to move it to early September and we intend to hold it at Newchurch on Saturday 4 September. Sandra Howard has been endlessly patient and has once again agreed to speak at the meeting. I will reconfirm this in a Summer Newsletter which will be sent out in July and which will include the formal Notice of the Meeting and Agenda. We will also endeavour to keep Members informed through our website – romneymarshchurches.org.uk – with any updates. With some form of social distancing likely to be still in place, I’m afraid it will not be possible to provide our customary lunch but we hope to be able to offer everyone at least a cup of tea after the meeting.
We are also hoping that we might be able to conduct a Members Tour later in the year. Both Elizabeth and Joan Campbell are keen to see everyone again although any tour will be highly dependent on restrictions being lifted but provisionally, we have set aside Saturday 18 September as a possible date. Again, I will update you in my Summer Newsletter and also whether or not we will be able to hold our traditional Thanksgiving service at Snave.
I referred earlier to a most generous legacy we received towards the end of the year. Some charities rely heavily on legacies but we are by no means dependent on them and to us, they are a most welcome bonus. They are of course a most effective method of benefiting the Trust and over the years, we have been fortunate to receive a variety of legacies including on one occasion a share of a property in the Midlands!
These are difficult times for all of us but I am most grateful to all those who have worked so hard for the Trust over the last twelve months. As vaccinations are rolled out across the country and restrictions begin to lift, let us be optimistic that life as we knew it will begin to return. As Captain Sir Tom Moore, who did so much to raise our spirits during the early stages of the pandemic, said, “Tomorrow will be a good day”.

Peter Anwyl-Harris
Chairman

Summarised Financial Statements 2020

You may view and print the Summarised Financial Statement