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Annual Report

ALL SAINTS’ CHURCH, NASH

Annual Report and Financial Statements of the Parochial Church Council for the year ended 31 December 2023.

Rector of the Blackthorn Chase Benefice: Rev Jaqueline Dove

Bank: Lloyds Bank

Parochial Church Council (PCC) membership

Members of the PCC are either ex officio or are elected by the Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM) in accordance with the Church Representation Rules.  The following served as members of the PCC during 2023:

Rector of the Blackthorn Chase

Benefice

Rev Jaqueline Dove
Associate Priest Reverend John King
Licensed Lay Minister & Fabric Officer Mr John Hamilton
Church Warden Mrs Margaret Morgan
Treasurer Mrs Margaret Hedges
Electoral Roll Officer, Secretary, & Safeguarding Officer Mrs Pamela (Pam) King
Deanery Synod Representative Mrs Pamela (Pam) King (until 17 May 2023)

Mrs Margaret Hedges (from 17 May 2023)

Other elected members Mrs Wendy Gladwin

Mrs Jane Harvey

Mrs Marilyn Malarkey (until 31 March 2023)

Mr Stuart Chaplin (representing Thornton)

Annual Review 2023

Administrative information

All Saints’, Nash, is situated in the middle of Nash, a small village in Buckinghamshire between Milton Keynes and Buckingham. The church was designed by G E Street and the foundation stone was laid in November 1857. A Thornton benefactor gave the land on which Nash church was built, so the parish is called Thornton with Nash and consists of the two villages. Thornton Church is now redundant and under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.

The PCC is a charity exempted from registration with the Charity Commission.

Thornton with Nash, together with Beachampton, Thornborough and Whaddon, is part of the Blackthorn Chase Benefice.

Church services

Services were largely back to pre-covid normal, though the PCC recognized that some people remained cautious, especially in relation to celebrating the Peace and taking the Common Cup at communion.

Excluding baptism, marriage and funeral related services, there were 56 services with a total attendance of 1,044 adults and 69 children in total. The average attendance on a normal Sunday was 17 adults. The Holy Communion services were particularly well attended with an average attendance of 20.   Except for the major festivals, the service pattern continued to be Holy Communion on the first and third Sundays, with morning or evening prayer on the second Sunday, and a family friendly Church4All on the fourth Sunday.  When there are five Sundays in the month the fifth Sunday is a Benefice Service which rotates round the four parishes in the Benefice.  On 7 May there was a special Songs of Praise to celebrate King Charles’ coronation when the Nash choir sang Zadoc the Priest.  The church also held an All Souls Service to remember loved ones. The mid-week Sacred Space meditation took place throughout the year in the Church – the figures for those attending are not included in the above service and attendance figures.

The weekly “Church at Home” sheet continued, giving readings, a homily, and intercessions.  It was distributed by email with a few copies hand-delivered for those without internet access.  Thanks are due to Rev Dove and Pam King (and to those who contributed homilies and intercessions) for producing this sheet and to Pam for the delivery.

There were two funeral services, one of which was followed by a burial in the churchyard.  There was one burial of ashes following a service at the crematorium.  There was one baptism.

Thornton Church had one service, a carol service, in 2023.

The Church Electoral Roll had twenty-seven members, including 6 non-residents.

Review of the year

The APCM to review 2022 was held on Wednesday 17 May 2023 in All Saints’ Church. The Annual Report and the Financial Statements for 2022 were approved.

Margaret Morgan was re-elected Church Warden for a further year. The other officers and PCC members continued as before with the exception of Mrs Marilyn Malarkey who had resigned on 31 March 2023.

2023 was dominated by the planning for major electrical work on the church building and the replacement of the paths. Details of this are given in the fabric section below.  Consequently, fund raising was required and applications were made to grant awarding bodies. The exceptional need was addressed specifically in the annual Gift Day letter to Nash residents (see finance section below).

The pastoral and worshipping highlights of 2023 were:

  • The Prayer Group (with six regular members) continued to meet on a fortnightly basis to support the work of the Benefice, Nash Church, individuals in difficult situations and various national and international events.
  • The Nash Fellowship (with ten members) met nearly every two weeks and was led by Rev Dove and Margaret Hedges. Members appreciated the opportunity to meet and share, and to study a range of biblical and other themes. Thanks are due to Eileen Horton for hosting the group.
  • Sacred Space – a short time of meditation in the Church was led weekly by John Hamilton with up to eight people attending.
  • A soup lunch was held on Ash Wednesday following the communion service.
  • The church restarted the village lunches. Three were held and proved popular.
  • Activities for young children across the Benefice were held on Good Friday and 23 December. The children enjoyed various craft activities related to the relevant church festival. A holiday club attended was held in August.  The Numbers attending were 21 for Good Friday, 4 for Christmas and 20 in the summer.
  • The church participated in the Annual Produce Show. There was no fete in 2023.
  • The church organized a harvest tea and auction of fresh produce on the afternoon of the Harvest Thanksgiving Service with the funds being given to the Red Cross Emergency Fund. The dried goods were donated to the Buckingham Food Bank.
  • The church continued to have responsibility for the bi-monthly Nash church/village magazine with Mrs Anna White as editor.
  • The church organized a “spring” clean of the church and a churchyard clear-up in November in association with its patronal festival.
  • The Nash Choir sang at the Coronation Songs of Praise, the Advent Carol Service, and the Christmas Carol Service. For the latter the church was full, and the congregation enjoyed Christmas cake, mince pies and mulled wine afterwards.

The church building and churchyard

The review year was taken up with finalising the PCC’s requirements for three projects, namely the replacement of the lighting and wiring; the replacement of the heating facilities; and the replacement of the two paths to the church.

These projects were required because the lighting had become inadequate since the halogen floodlights had failed and could only be replaced at considerable cost by installing scaffolding to reach the light fittings in the ceiling of the church. Some of the heating elements were failing in the wall heaters notwithstanding that they were only some thirteen years old. The cracks in the main path were becoming dangerous and unsightly and the side path too narrow for two people to walk side by side along it.

The PCC sought advice from the Diocese’s heating expert on the most appropriate form of heating for the church. The recommendation was to have under pew heaters since although the pews are not fixed they are heavy and rarely moved.

Consent for the carrying out of three projects was then sought by means of faculties from the Diocese of Oxford via the Diocesan Advisory Board (DAC). The paths also required planning permission from Buckinghamshire Council.

After delays by the DAC, faculties were eventually issued for both the replacement of the lighting and wiring and the replacement of the heating facilities. The lighting changes involved the introduction of a sensor to turn the lights on when coming into church and a sophisticated lighting control to allow the lighting in the church to be adjusted to the particular requirements of the occasion. The heating changes involved the removal of the existing and failing wall heaters and their replacement by eighteen under pew heaters with eight further heaters in the choir stalls together with three panel heaters. All other wiring was to be changed at the same time.

In respect to the paths, the PCC considered installing a ramp up to the outside step together with a hand-rail. However, after some deliberation it was decided not to do this as there was concern that a ramped access could be slippery in wet or freezing conditions.

As already mentioned, the replacement paths required permission from both the Diocese and Buckinghamshire Council. As each considered their applications, each proved to have differing requirements (and with no co-ordination between the two). This led to delay as changes were made to meet the requirements of one and then revised permission sought from the other.

The Diocese issued their permission first only for the Council to say they did not like the material proposed, that is paving slabs, and required a ‘Tar and Chip’ process with resin finish. It was pointed out to the Council that a ‘Tar and Chip’ process with resin finish was not a tried and tested material, nor was it likely to be as durable as paving slabs but notwithstanding this the Council insisted on the same. The Diocese’s approval for the change was then sought which was obtained but they then wanted the colour of the edging bricks to change from red sandstone to grey. The Council’s consent to that change was then sought and obtained.

The Council’s Tree Officer then made the requirement that the extension of the width to the side path take place on the south side of the existing path so as to avoid any possibility of the path works harming the roots of a Yew tree by the gate. As a result the path would go nearer to two other Yew trees to the south of the existing path. On acceptance of this requirement planning permission was then granted.

Additional funds for some of the cost of the works was required and this was facilitated by the hard work of the Treasurer through grant applications and fund raising. Once funds were in place and with all of the necessary consents having been obtained it was then a matter of agreeing with the respective contractors dates for the start of the works, all of which started in 2024.

The grass in the Churchyard continues to be cut by a member of the village, for which the PCC is grateful.

Finance

The Financial Statements and associated notes have been prepared on a receipts and payments basis.  They have been independently examined by Mr L York, ACIB,

2023 was an exceptional year as the PCC undertook major fundraising to enable the church to be rewired so that new lighting and heating could be installed, the main path replaced, and the side path replaced and widened. The fundraising included grant applications together with an appeal to the congregation and Nash village.

The £5,072 of income tax reclaimed from HMRC under gift aid and the gift aid small donations scheme has been added to the associated type of giving and is not listed separately.

Ten members of the congregation make monthly payments by standing order which gives the church a regular monthly Income, but the continuing generosity of those who donate at services through the brown envelopes is important for the financial health of the church, enabling the PCC to pay its parish share in full and, by committing to monthly payments to the diocese, to get a 1% reduction.

Summary: The 2023 financial statements show a surplus as receipts were £22,565 higher than payments; this exceptional result arises from several factors (detailed comments are in the notes):

  • Grants of £5,000 from the Elmer’s charity and of £2,500 from the Benefact Trust were received in the autumn (a further grant of £6,000 was received in January 2024).
  • A donation of £5,000 (including Gift Aid) towards the electrical and path projects.
  • Donations for Gift Day of £7,795 (including Gift Aid) were over £3,000 higher than in 2022 – Gift Aid on December 2023 donations were claimed in January 2024.
  • Collections and regular giving were up by c£750.
  • There were no major items of expenditure, although grass cutting cost over £400 more than in 2022.
  • From the renewal date in September, the insurance was paid in monthly instalments (at no extra cost) and this contributed about £700 to the surplus.

On the opposite side, there was no fete in 2023 – this normally raises c£1,500 for the church. Also, there were two weddings in 2022 so the drop of about £900 in fee income was expected.

In recent years the church has been building up its reserves knowing that major work would be needed. The church’s free reserves at 31 December 2022 were £49,871. Using a substantial proportion of these together with the various grants, donations, and an exceptional Gift Day in 2023, together with the £6,000 grant from Garfield Weston received in January 2024, means that the church was in a position to proceed with all its plans for the paths, lighting and heating.

Parish Share 2024 and beyond: Nash’s 2024 parish share is £9,309, an increase of £443, or 5%, on the 2023 level. The shares of all the parishes in the Deanery have been increased by the same percentage.  It is likely that Deanery Synod will be asked to consider the relativities of the various shares in the course of 2024.  The PCC needs to remember that the parish share allocated to the Blackthorn Chase Benefice represents only a bit over half of the incumbent’s employment costs.

Thank you

Particular thanks go to the Ministry Team for the Blackthorn Chase Benefice led by the Reverend Jacqueline Dove, ably assisted by Rev John King (and his wife Pam), Rev Rupert Bursell, and John Hamilton LLM who have taken services throughout 2023.

Nash Church would not function without the hard work of the people who give of their time to help the church to operate. We are a small parish and depend on the dedication and hard work of all who help to facilitate the work of the church. In particular thanks go to:

  • Each and every member of the PCC for their valued contributions
  • Our Churchwarden
  • Our organists and volunteer choir members
  • Our Treasurer
  • Our Fabric Officer
  • Our flower arrangers
  • All who carry out the valuable work of cleaning the church
  • Members of the village and congregation who helped us clear-up the churchyard and clean the church, and who contributed so generously on Gift Day
  • For those who carry out all of the other work and assistance which is not specifically mentioned above
  • Michael Williams, for continuing to pay for the village website, on which the church (and other village organisations) have pages

Nash PCC, December 202

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