Parish AGM 20 May 2019


MONDAY 20 MAY 2019

The Annual Parish Meeting was held in the Parish Hall at Sacred Heart, North Walsham and was attended by approximately 50 parishioners.  Fr James opened the evening with Grace and then all enjoyed a delicious meal provided by parishioners from the Sacred Heart, North Walsham and St John of the Cross, Aylsham.


 Plenty went on in the Parish in the last 12 months so, in no particular order:

Last September Fr James and 2 delegates from the parish attended the Adoremus Congress in Liverpool.

The Cool Catholic Kids group have enjoyed a wide variety of activities supporting and encouraging our younger members.  I am sure you would wish them well for the future.  These youngsters are the backbone of our community and the seed corn of the Church going forward.  A quick plea on their behalf: if anyone has a portable keyboard they no longer need, the group can find a very good use for it.

The Live Simply Campaign which reminds us that we are the stewards of creation continues to be well supported in our community.  The Parish has been awarded Live Simply status and each church was presented with a plaque.  Only 50 of these have been awarded over the whole of the UK. We continue to support this wonderful initiative.  As part of the Live Simply focus, a Parish Walk took place last June, in line with the Pope’s request that we “share the journey” in solidarity with people on the move all over the world. The sun shone and the humans enjoyed the afternoon almost as much as the many canine friends who came along.

A Parish Garden Party was held on 28 July 2018 with a buffet lunch and was enjoyed by all.

The Reverse Advent Calendar was again a huge success providing much needed supplies for the food bank and the Backpack Appeal ran well along similar lines during Lent.

A Crib Festival was held at St Helen’s church, Hoveton during the week before the Epiphany 2019.  This raised over £350 and part of the proceeds was used to provide two much needed wheelchairs in Svay Sissophon.

The North Walsham Covenant Service (Churches Together in North Walsham) was held on 20 January 2019 at the Sacred Heart church. During the service the Covenant was signed by representatives from most of the denominations in North Walsham.

St Helen’s celebrated their 60th Anniversary on 3 May with a concelebrated Mass featuring no fewer than 8 priests.  This was followed by an excellent supper and a joyful time was had by all.

 We continue to support our twin parish at Svay Sissophon in Cambodia and a visit was again organised bearing essential gifts for our friends there.  The P’chum Ben Mass (Cambodian Mass for ancestors) in the Sacred Heart hall had been a beautiful occasion.  Alive in Faith is supporting a new venture in Cambodia where nine persons suffering from HIV are cared for in hospital.  We had a visit from Bishop Kike and we donate to the charity “Support Cambodia”.

Our senior citizens have two different clubs to come along to, promoting their physical and mental wellbeing.

All three churches now hold Forum meetings which give all parishioners the opportunity to air their views and concerns about any aspect of parish life.

Francis Harmer and Nick Walmsley were honoured by being presented with the Diocesan Certificate and Medal in respect of their unstinting efforts over the last decades.

The Catenians and the SVP are both well represented in this parish.  The SVP were involved in getting the new temporary home in Sheringham up and running, supporting homeless people in the area at St Vincent’s House.

Forty parishioners, led by Fr James, went on pilgrimage to France and it is hoped to repeat the event – Brexit willing.

So, after all, there has been a lot happening in the parish in the last year or so.  But what of the future? Exciting times lie ahead and further details of all these will follow as the year progresses.

The ‘Celebrate’ festival is on 11 June.

Bishop Baron and his various on-line inspirational initiatives are getting support in the parish including his 28 days to ‘engage your parish’. Check him out – just put Bishop Baron into your search engine.

‘Our Common Home’ was launched in Diss parish last weekend.

‘Care of Creation’ will be along in September.

Next year will be the Year of the Word and we will be supporting the initiative which gets us to focus on ‘The God who Speaks’.

The Strawberry Tea is on 29 June.

The Summer garden party (Hot Dog social) will be on 27 July.

What you will have gleaned is that a lot is going on in the parish and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those - too many to name individually – who organise and administer all these events.



Attached is the Parish income and expenditure statement for the year ended 31 December 2018.

From a financial point of view the year was relatively unremarkable.  There are a few observations to make as follows:

The income from the collection including standing orders was £51,854.  The Finance Committee had budgeted for that to be £50,000 and the budgeted figure was therefore exceeded.  However, when fixing the budget for income I always tend to be pessimistic.  Over the years the actual figure has been creeping closer and closer to my pessimistic budget figure.  In the year ending 31 December 2017 the actual figure was £54,356 which means there was a reduction of 4.6% in 2018 even ignoring the effects of inflation which means that each pound doesn’t go as far.  I am sure everybody is doing the best they can.  All I would encourage you to do is to make your donations by Gift Aid and to set up a standing order.  If you need any more information about how to do that then please let me know.

The figure for Gift Aid is £9,423.  This includes the Government grant under the “Open Plate” scheme.  Both the Gift Aid rebate and the Open Plate grant are paid to the diocese who are the registered charity.  They take 25% off what the Government pay so if all the rebated grant was paid to us, the figure payable would be about £13,000 for last year.  The figure is calculated for the tax year that ended during 2018 so most of it in fact relates to donations made during 2017.  Next year the figure will probably be less because the collection has reduced.

As you can see the hall each year is a major contributor to the Parish finances and during 2018 you can see fees for hiring the hall amounted to £8,125.

Most of the items of expenditure are as expected.  Apart from the school and diocesan levy the biggest item of expenditure relates to the buildings within the Parish.  These vary considerably from year to year depending on what needs to be done.  In fact during 2018 we had budgeted for a much larger deficit than the actual figure because we had planned to undertake the roof works at Sacred Heart but that will be carried out this year.

The hall costs are higher than normal because a new boiler had to be installed.

Because the expenditure on buildings can fluctuate so much, I created soon after becoming chair of the committee what I would call a “sinking fund” which we call the property reserve fund so as to be able to iron out the peaks and troughs of expenditure on the buildings and as at the end of 2018 that fund stood at £16,222.

As you can see from the annual figures we received a payment back of the Alive In Faith money which the Parish had donated.  I understand this will amount in total to 25% of what will have been donated and will be repayable over the lifetime of the Alive In Faith commitment.

(At the AGM on 20 May a question was raised about how the Alive In Faith rebate is allocated.  In fact this is not something which the Parish finance committee has very much to do with other than being kept aware of how the rebate had been applied.  My records show that as at 26 February 2019, the Parish had received a total of £17,878.  Approximately £10,000 had been spent on the organ at Hoveton, the organ and the paving at Aylsham and also with a payment to the SVP.  My records show that there was then left £7,109 to spend.  At the meeting of the finance committee on 26 February 2019 Fr James indicated that it was for the Pastoral Council make recommendations for how the money is to be spent.  At the AGM he indicated that a further £2,000 had been received so I understand there is an excess of £9,000 presently available.  If any of our communities wish to make a suggestion for how any of that money should be spent, then I would recommend that they do so via one of their representatives on the Parish Council.)


Fr James thanked all parishioners for attending, for all the good food, and special thanks to those working hard behind the scenes to make it a successful evening.  He then recalled that at the last AGM he had spoken of his earlier life as a Benedictine Monk at Quarr Abbey before joining the Diocese of East Anglia.  Life continued as parish priest at Stowmarket for 10 years or so, following which Bishop Alan Clark asked if he would take up the office of Bishop’s Secretary.  During these 2 years Fr James lived in Porringland, was also parish priest at Porringland and Chaplain at UEA.  Following his time as Bishop’s Secretary, Fr James was the parish priest in Ipswich for 8 years.  Then one day Bishop Peter Smith phoned and over lunch, asked him to take on the role of Dean at the Cathedral, and there ended the current instalment.

Fr James concluded the AGM with a prayer and blessing.

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