Chairman’s Annual Report 2021

A report on progress of the Trust presented to the 2022 AGM

It has been a very long two years and we have had several false dawns but at last, our lives are beginning to revert to normal. I am well aware that the past two years have been very difficult for some of you but I am hopeful that as your Trust celebrates its 40th anniversary, Members will return to the Marsh and its wonderful churches. Welcome back everybody!

Our finances are very sound and total funds are now approaching £1m. Our investment portfolio has recovered all – and more – of the paper losses suffered during the early stages of the pandemic whilst we have also been the fortunate recipient of a number of very generous donations. In addition, we received £48,000 from the Friends of St Nicholas, New Romney who took the decision to wind up and dissolve their charity. These funds will be used exclusively for the repair and maintenance of that church. Membership remains in excess of 1,000.

Inevitably some aspects of the Trust’s activities have had to be curtailed but we have not been idle! Grants during the year totalled £108,000, very close to our record year in 2018. These grants have been spread across almost all the churches we support, the most significant being £14,900 to St Mary-in-the-Marsh for repairs to the bell chamber and tower, £13,800 to St Eanswith, Brenzett, £13,000 to St George’s Ivychurch and £11,900 to St Dunstan’s Snargate, all for quinquennial repairs and £12,100 to St Peter and Paul, Dymchurch for a new lightning conductor and repairs to the roof.

As well as providing funding for the repair and maintenance of the churches we support, we also have an objective to “advance the education of the public in the history and architecture of the churches” and mindful that today’s children will be tomorrow’s supporters of the Trust, we are very keen to encourage younger generations to take an interest in the Marsh and its churches. In conjunction with Kent Wildlife and the Fifth Continent Project, we have developed an App which will in effect provide a guided tour of each church. Visitors can log in at each church and listen to a brief history of the church in question. If any of you think they recognise the voice, it is non other than our own tour leader John Hendy! Further education initiatives will be rolled out over time.

In my 2020 report I referred to the Executive Committee which took on the responsibility for the day-to-day management of the Trust. From the middle of last year we were, once again able to hold full Council meetings but I am most grateful to all those who served on that Committee, in particular, David Williams our Treasurer, David Hanbury, Membership Secretary and a special thanks to Elizabeth Marshall who is not only Secretary to the Trust but is involved in virtually everything we do from organising our AGMs, co-hosting the Members tours and dealing with Christmas card requests. We owe her a great debt of gratitude.

Last year, Covid restrictions meant that for the second successive year, our Annual General Meeting, normally held in May, had to be postponed until September. Sandra Howard, who had originally been scheduled to speak in 2020, proved a huge draw and entertained us with a delightful address. God willing, this year’s AGM will be held at 2.30pm on 7 May at St Nicholas, New Romney. Lord King, former Governor of the Bank of England and a Deputy Lieutenant of Kent has very kindly agreed to be our speaker. We will revert to our usual format with lunch beforehand. Full details are enclosed with this report.

I am also very pleased to be able to report that our tours will resume this year. John Hendy has a number of groups already booked in during the summer months and Joan Campbell and Elizabeth Marshall will once again, be leading a tour for members – just one this year – on 3 September. We need a minimum of 40 participants for the tour to go ahead and again, details are enclosed with the report. Churches to be visited this year will be New Romney, Newchurch and Snave. The following Sunday, 11 September, we will return to Snave for our annual Thanksgiving service.

Some of you may be aware of a series of books by Charles Igglesden titled A Saunter Through Kent. Over 40 years Igglesden visited some 230 villages throughout Kent including those on the Marsh but his descriptions of these are scattered across some five volumes. A special edition limited to 150 copies has been commissioned which brings together all the Marsh churches in a single volume and will include a new text for East Guldeford which being in Sussex was not included in his original series. It will be on sale at the AGM and also available when we send out details of our Christmas cards in the Autumn. Talking of which, Christmas card sales have been particularly strong over the last two years and we will have three new cards available at the AGM.

Thanks to the inspiration of our founders and the generosity of all those who have supported us – both past and present – this Trust has achieved a great deal over its first 40 years. In that time, over £1.5m has been paid out in grants to preserve these magnificent churches. Our task now is to secure the next 40 years!

Peter Anwyl-Harris

Summarised Financial Statements 2021

You may view and print the Summarised Financial Statement