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TONIGHT THE TRUSTEES (PCC) approved the following Annual Report to the Charity Commissioners 

Charity number: 1137751

Annual Report for the year ending 31 December 2018

Trustees’ report

The trustees have pleasure in presenting their report and the financial statements of the charity for the year ending 31 December 2018. The organisational structure, administration details and governance of the charity are set out later in this report while the activities of the church form the first part.

Summary

The first nine months of this year was designated one of celebration and commemoration, with a major festival representing in floral art the many anniversaries throughout 2018, and a year-long Celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage.

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Although mission continued to be a fundamental part of the church’s activity throughout the year, October saw the start of a year-long campaign, Proclaiming it Afresh, concentrating on the promise made by all Anglican ministers that, as the Church, we are called on to proclaim afresh the faith we receive in each generation.

As well as regular and special services, thousands of youngsters from local schools, their teachers, friends and families visited both St Mary’s and Christchurch, for Harvest, Christmas and Christingle services. The Holywell Community continued their service to both church and community.

Worship has been greatly enhanced by the music of St Mary’s Priory Choir who sang at regular and special services, and by our bell-ringers, who both rang and facilitated visiting ringers from around the country.

St Mary’s, with its daughter church Christchurch, aims to provide regular public worship and the provision of sacred space for personal prayer and contemplation, as well as carrying out pastoral work such as visiting the sick and bereaved, teaching Christianity through sermons and small groups and promoting Christianity through events and services. The church also aims to care for its fine collection of both historic medieval monuments and newly-created works of art, which are visited by visitors from all over the world.

The following report on the churches’ activities demonstrate what the charity has done during the year to carry out these purposes for the public benefit.

Activities

The Parish continued to endeavour to enable the wider community to live out their faith as part of our community through wide ranging activities,which can be split broadly into four categories:

  • worship, prayer and pastoral care;
  • mission and outreach;
  • special events;
  • fundraising, fellowship and hosting events.

 

Worship, prayer and pastoral care

The Revd Canon Mark Soady  continues to serve St Mary’s Priory Church with Christchurch as Vicar; St Peter’s, Llanwenarth Citra, as Rector; and Holy Trinity Church, Abergavenny, as Priest-in-Charge, as well as Prior of the Holywell Community.  He continues to serve as Area Dean of Abergavenny and as a Canon of Newport Cathedral.

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Bishop Dominic, Archdeacon Ambrose and the Holywell Community 2018/19

The Revd Tom Bates continues to serve as Sub-Prior and Assistant Priest of Abergavenny while the Revd Jeff Pearse serves as non-stipendiary curate.

In its fifth year, the Holywell Community saw a change of members, with Sister Jennii Shaw leaving to become Community Engagement Mission Officer at Aberavon and Sister Joanna become an ‘alongsider’ at Ty Mawr Convent, near Monmouth. The new members of the Community, Br Seb and Br Josh, were commissioned in August by Bishop Dominic Walker. The Community works both in the Church and the wider community, running all-age worship, visiting schools, and at the Little Footprints playgroup. Their wide range of duties included visiting the sick, gardening at the Tithe Barn and Church, serving at regular and special services and acting as Verger at weddings and funerals.

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Bishop Richard Fenwick dedicates the Bishop David Thomas memorials

As well as the usual weekday and Sunday worship during the year, there were a number of special services and events, including:

  • In January, St Mary’s participated in the town’s ecumenical services for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity;
  • Also in January, a lectern, a memorial to Bishop David Thomas was placed in the St Joseph Chapel (formerly the Lewis Chapel);
  • In February, there was a joint service for Candlemas, shared with Christchurch, Govilon, held at Govilon;
  • During March, a series of sermons at Evensong posed the question What’s St Benedict got to do with me?, with preachers include the Prior, scriptologist Fr Jonathon Wright; lay members of the Holywell Community; and Fr Sam MacNally-Cross (Oblate OSB);
  • In May, the Herbert Chapel was renamed the St Benedict Chapel during a service which saw the blessing of an Icon of St Benedict written by Br Michael, a monk at the Anglican Benedictine Monastery at Mucknell;
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Fr Mark receives the Icon of St Benedict off Br Michael

  • The Thy Kingdom Come initiative prompted prayer trails devised by the Fr Tom;
  • Canon Beverley Hollins, Area Dean of Greater Northampton, preached on Trinity Sunday;
  • Special services for the Stepping Through Time flower festival (see below);
  • Canon Soady preaching at Harvest Thanksgiving at St Michael’s Church, Myddfai, Carmarthenshire, on the question of depression and suicide in today’s farming community;
  • In October, collections at Harvest Thanksgiving services were taken for the work of the Embrace, formerly Embrace the Middle East and Abergavenny Town of Sanctuary;
  • All Souls Requiem Eucharist at which the names of departed loved ones were read out;
  • The blessing and chrismation of an Icon of the Holy Family, in memory of Bishop David Thomas. The service, led by Bishop Richard Fenwick, also saw the dedication of the lectern in the St Joseph Chapel;
  • In November, Armistice Day services at both St Mary’s and Christchurch and in the town, as well as a reception after the services held in the Priory Centre and organised by Abergavenny Town Council, which included poetry read by schoolchildren and music from St Mary’s Priory Choir;

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  • In December, local schools used the church for their Christingle and Christmas services – thousands of youngsters, their families and teachers visiting the church in the space of two weeks;
  • Other carol services included those for Gwent St John, Tenovus’ Light Up a Life, and Vision of Hope, a local initiative to enable young people who have suffered through abuse and addiction to receive animal-assisted therapy;

 

The Church’s work with children includes All Age Worship every other Sunday, school assemblies and Little Footprints, a parent and toddler group held every week during term time—one of the latter’s highlights was a Royal Wedding street party

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Holywell Community host a visit from the community at Mucknell Abbey

Acts  of worship, including some of the Benedictine Offices, were celebrated on almost every day of the year, and pastoral care continued throughout, in particular, the visiting of, and on occasions taking Communion to, parishioners who through sickness or age were unable to come to church. The average attendance at the main services at the churches was 103.2, and the number recorded on the Electoral roll for both churches on 31 December 2018 was 205.

In addition to our regular services, we enable our community to celebrate and thank God in the milestones of the journey through life. Through baptism we welcome new disciples into the life of God’s family and in marriage public vows are exchanged with God’s blessing.  Through funeral services friends and family express their grief and give thanks for the life which is now complete in this world and commit their loved one into God’s keeping.  This year, we celebrated 15 baptisms and eight weddings in the Parish. There were 71 funerals.

Ecumenically, the parish participated fully in the Abergavenny Council of Churches, including the now-annual ecumenical Christmas carol service, which took place after the Scratch Nativity held through the streets of Abergavenny town centre and market.

 

Mission and outreach work

Much of the parishes’ mission and outreach work was organised by the Abergavenny Anglican Churches Together group (AACT), established during 2012 with members drawn from all four churches in Canon Soady’s incumbency and co-ordinated through the Joint Wardens’ Meetings. The year saw church members continue to look further outward in their mission and outreach, including:

  • The Holywell Community working in Church, Schools and among young people of the town;
  • Again running a marriage preparation course, with eight couples exploring their relationship and what marriage will mean to them;
  • Members of our Mothers’ Union continuing to volunteer at a contact centre for children suffering family break-up;
  • Members of all four churches in the incumbency collecting baby items and food for asylum seekers in Newport, the initiative again being run by Mothers’ Union;
  • Families who had suffered bereavement during the year being personally invited to the All Souls Service;
  • At Christmas, the congregations filling boxes with small items as part of the Shoe Box Appeal, sending 90 boxes to orphanages in Romania;
  • Parishioners contributing staple foodstuffs and toiletries to the Abergavenny Food Bank;
  • The hosting of a weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meeting;
  • Members of the church continuing to be involved with the 7 Corners project in Abergavenny, which aims to provide a place for young people to meet;
  • Church members contributing over 50 Christmas parcels of items such as toiletries, gloves, and small gifts for older teenagers and young adults in Abergavenny who, through no fault of their own, are living by themselves, again an increase on last year’s total;
  • Contributing to the Additional Curates’ Society;
  • Contributing to the Bishop of Monmouth’s Lent Appeal;
  • Using the Jesse Window, in particular the Advent Jesse in the tracery, together with a new devotional guide, to reflect on the Advent journey.

    Members of the public were offered Ashing on Ash Wednesday; and shoe polishing to commuters at Abergavenny Railway Station on Maundy Thursday.

     

 

In October, a special emphasis was put on mission, with the launch of a year-long programme Proclaiming it Afresh, concentrating on the promise by all Anglican ministers that the faith we receive we are called upon as the Church to proclaim afresh in each generation.

This emphasis on mission began with the performance by Riding Lights of Gospel Street, a modern retelling of Jesus’ life and teachings. One of the key ways the Church was able to reach out through this production was through the generosity of those who sponsored tickets, enabling young people from 7 Corners Centre and Vision of Hope Farm to attend, as well as others from the community.

 

Other initiatives over the 12 months include:

  • Local artist Jeremy Thomas producing artworks throughout the year which tell the Gospel story, to be displayed at St Mary’s, before, hopefully going on tour around other churches, schools and pop-up exhibition spaces;
  • A local school studying the parables of Jesus, through Godly Play and art, and then retelling them in their own way to produce the Abergavenny Parables;
  • A Lent study course;
  • Godly Play;
  • Thy Kingdom Come;
  • A pilgrimage along the St Thomas Way—this pilgrimage trail from Swansea to Hereford was launched in August this year and an exhibition of the Way was held at St Mary’s.

 

In December, members of the congregations sang carols in care and nursing homes and in local pubs.

The work of the church is greatly enhanced by St Mary’s Priory Choir, under the musical directorship of Tim Pratt. This year, they sang St Mark’s Passion by Charles Wood as a sacred concert on Good Friday and were choir in residence at Gloucester Cathedral for a week in August, during which they sang music by Richard Woodward which had sat undiscovered in the library of the Cathedral since about 1772.

 

The choir also took part in the second Festival of Liturgical Music through the centuriesduring which liturgical music from the 15th to 21st centuries was heard; eight different vocal groups led the worship, consisting of 90 singers under five different conductors and accompanied by four organists. There were six recitalists and the estimated 450 people who attended the festival experienced the music of 58 composers.

 

Members of the congregation again joined fellow pilgrims from all over the country for the annual Fr Ignatius Memorial Pilgrimage through the Llanthony Valley in August.

St Mary’s was visited by people from all over the world and from nearer home, with many groups such as U3A, local history organisations, Mothers’ Union and other church groups booking tours to learn about the collection of medieval monuments in the church – said to be one of the finest in the country – and to sit quietly in a church which has been a place of prayer for nearly 1,000 years.

 

The church bells, described as the finest ring of 10 bells in Christendom, were rung on Sundays, at funerals and weddings. This year, on Remembrance Sunday (the 100thanniversary of the end of The Great War) we they were rung half muffled for the Service of Remembrance and again in the evening without muffles as part of the nationwide ringing. They were also rung by visiting groups of ringers, as part of the Hereford ringing course, and for the ITV Wales Coast and Country programme.

 

Special activities

The Year of Marriage

The Year of Marriage began shortly after the 70th anniversary of the wedding of the Queen and Prince Philip and in the year of the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Events included a marriage preparation for couples being married at St Mary’s during the year and a service for couples to renew their wedding vows and celebrate their life together. Fr Tom went to Llanfoist School to show pupils what a church wedding is all about and marriage was represented in the Stepping Through Time flower festival.

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The final event of the Year of Marriage was an exhibition of wedding dresses held in St Mary’s during Abergavenny Food Festival, featuring a wide range of styles from the Second World War to the present day. It included dresses from three generations of the same family.

 

Stepping through Time

Staged by Abergavenny Flower Arrangement Society, the Stepping through Timeflower festival celebrated 30 important—and not-so-important—anniversaries, both in the nation and in Abergavenny. The festival acknowledged that the Priory Church had, down the centuries, been the place where the town comes to celebrate and to weep.

 

The anniversaries included the 100th anniversary of some women getting the vote— arrangements created by 5th Abergavenny Brownies and the Gwent WI; the 70th anniversary of the creation of the NHS; the centenary of the formation of the Royal Air Force; the 70th birthday of HRH The Prince of Wales;  the centenary of the end of the First World War and the 250th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Academy of Arts. Local anniversaries included the 20th anniversary of Abergavenny Food Festival, a decade of Abergavenny being a Fairtrade town; and the anniversaries of the town being twinned with Ostringen (50 years) and Beaupreau (30 years).

More light-hearted anniversaries represented in the 30 arrangements included 150 years since the first traffic lights were installed and the 60th birthday of LEGO bricks.

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The festival also included an informal concert by Simon Pratt, former Concentor of the Holywell Community, who was appointed Deputy Director of Music at St Mary’s; a Sung Eucharist with preacher the Dean of St Asaph, the Very Reverend Nigel Williams; and a service to mark in prayer and readings the anniversaries the festival celebrated.

 

Guide Book Relaunch

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In April, the award-winning guidebook to St Mary’s Priory was updated and reprinted. It now includes the magnificent Jesse Window created in memory of former Vicar of Abergavenny, the Very Reverend Jeremy Winston. The Jesse figure also featured in a book published in September Wales in 100 Objects, written by Andrew Green, the former librarian of the National Library of Wales, in which he lists the 100 objects which represent key aspects of the history of Wales.

 

Fundraising, Fellowship and Hosting Events

A number of concerts, for both the Church and outside organisations, took place at St Mary’s, including concerts by Crickhowell Choral Society and Gwent Bach Society.

The Priory Centre Hall and Christchurch Hall continue to be resources for the community. As well as hosting church fundraising events and after-service fellowship, Christchurch Hall was used by an art group for vulnerable adults and as part of Cantref Open Gardens Scheme, the latter raising money for Target Ovarian Cancer. The monthly coffee mornings held at Christchurch are well supported by both members of the congregation and people from the community.

In September, there was a parish trip to Hampton Court Castle, Hereford, a thoroughly enjoyable day out.

 

 

The Priory Centre provided the venue for various fundraising activities and celebrations. We hosted refreshments on the Vicarage Lawn during Abergavenny Food Festival, which featured both traditional cream teas and food cooked by Syrian refugees now living in Abergavenny. The Centre is used for, among other events, meetings, conferences, blood donor sessions, parties and rehearsals of the Rock Choir.

 

Reference and administration details

St Mary’s Priory Church and its daughter church, Christchurch, is in the Parish of Abergavenny, part of Abergavenny Ministry Area and Deanery of Abergavenny and the Diocese of Monmouth in the Church of Wales.

 

Incumbent and ministers

The Incumbent is the Reverend Canon Mark Soady. He was assisted by the Revd Tom Bates, the Revd Jeff Pearse and members of the Holywell Monastic Community.

The worship in the parish has been made possible through the on-going contribution of our Licensed Lay Ministers David Meredith and Gaynor Parfitt; retired ministers the Revd Malcolm Lane, the Revd Canon Roger Williams and the Revd Canon Andrew Willie.

 

Objectives and activities

We review our aims, objectives and activities each year, looking at what we have achieved and the outcomes of our work in the previous twelve months. The review looks at the success of each key activity and benefits of activities in a wide variety of cultural areas. The review also helps us ensure our aims, objectives and activities remained focussed on our stated objective.

When reviewing our aims and objectives and in planning and considering our activities for the year, the incumbent and the Parochial Church Council (PCC) have considered the Charity Commission’s guidance on public benefit and, in particular, the specific guidance on charities for the advancement of religion.

The objective of the Charity is promoting in the ecclesiastical parish the whole mission of the Church. Encouraging and facilitating the practice of the Christian Faith by the Churches includes the following:

  • Conducting regular Christian worship in both Churches;
  • The celebration of the Holy Eucharist, on at least six days each week at St Mary’s Priory Church;
  • marriages, funerals and baptisms;
  • The provision and maintenance of the fabric of St Mary’s Priory Church, Abergavenny, and of Christchurch, Abergavenny and their associated buildings;
  • Opening St Mary’s daily for the public to enter and benefit from personal spiritual contemplation; and to be able to view the medieval monuments and learn about the Benedictine foundation of the Church and its place in the history of Christianity and of Abergavenny;
  • The maintenance of Christian burial places;
  • Promoting the study of Christian teaching, practices and Scriptures;
  • The provision of means and encouragement to promote fellowship within the membership of the Churches and the wider community;

 

In addition to the above, Christian devotional acts and outreach work is carried out, including:

  • Visiting the sick;
  • Administering the Sacraments to those unable to attend regular acts of Worship, to the sick and dying;
  • Supporting pastoral work;
  • Fostering ecumenical links between differing Christian denominations;
  • Supporting the work of other charities through, among others, the Mothers’ Union and AACT’s Mission and Outreach Committee.

The work of the Church is governed by safeguarding policies of the Church in Wales, responsible adults are required to have DBS checks and the joint parishes have appointed a safeguarding co-ordinator who liaises with the Provincial safeguarding officer if necessary.

 

Further achievements in the year

Monies were raised by freewill offertory, fundraising activities and specific appeals. These were used to support the work and administration of the churches and wider mission. Volunteers, who helped at each act of worship to support the clergy, have donated their time. The churches will continue with their acts of worship and pastoral care during 2019 and will continue actively to try to increase its Electoral Roll, through its mission work in the community.

The activities of the committees and groups within the churches continued during the year. The monies raised contributed to the general income of the churches. These activities are expected to continue during 2019. All those involved in group activities and who assist with the main functions of the churches are volunteers who have freely donated their time, energy and skills. In order to continue to foster increasing unity between the different Churches and congregations within Canon Soady’s Incumbency, regular meetings of the Wardens from all four Churches were held.

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The Trustees

The trustees who served the Charity during the period from the Annual Vestry Meeting in April 2017 until the end of the year were as follows:

The Revd Canon Mark Soady               Chairman

The Revd Tom Bates

The Revd Jeff Pearse

Mr Robin Alldred

Mrs Sheila Davies                                     Assistant People’s Warden, representative on the Deanery Conference

Mr Lyndon Evans

Mr Sam Hunt

Mr Steven Lamerton                             Gift Aid Treasurer

Mrs Jenny Lloyd

Mrs Eunice Marsh                                    PCC Secretary

Mrs Jenny McPherson

Mr Andrew Powell

Mrs Wendy Pendry

Mr Tim Pratt                                               Vicar’s Warden

Mrs Patricia Ransome

Mr Huw Shurmer

Mr Robin Smith                                        Assistant Vicar’s Warden, St Mary’s Treasurer

Mrs Sheila Woodhouse         Vicar’s warden at Christchurch, Christchurch Treasurer

Ms Caroline Woollard           Parish People’s Warden, representative on the Diocesan Conference  and member of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales

 

Structure, governance and management

The Parish of Abergavenny is part of the Diocese of Monmouth within the Church in Wales. The Church in Wales is a Province within the Anglican Communion and, as such, exists to advance the Christian Religion through world-wide mission. The object of the Parochial Church Council is to ensure that the life and work of the Church within the Parish helps to fulfil that mission, both locally and more widely.

The Representative Body of the Church in Wales holds the land and property of the Church in Wales, including St Mary’s Priory Church, Christchurch and other church buildings, and including the Garden of Rest at St Mary’s, and their contents. The Representative Body is an exempt Charity and was set up under Section 13(2) of the Welsh Churches Act 1914. It acts on behalf of the Province in paying the stipends of the full-time clergy, and administers the Church in Wales scheme of covenanted and gift aid giving, recovering tax on behalf of the parishes.

The Parochial Church Council (PCC) is not a body corporate, its composition, procedure and powers being regulated by the Constitution of the Church in Wales as amended from time to time by its Governing Body set up under Section 13(1) of the Welsh Church Act 1914. Elections are held at an Annual Vestry Meeting which must take place on or before 30thApril each year. All persons whose names are entered on the Electoral Roll are entitled to vote and stand for election. Before assuming office, every member of the PCC publicly makes a declaration that he or she will be bound by the Constitution. The Members and Officers of the PCC, including the Incumbent, on appointment, become Trustees of the ‘Parish of Abergavenny Parochial Church Council Charity Trust’.

The PCC also appoints the Priory Trustees, a body set up under a 1925 Deed of Trust to administer certain lands and properties held by the Representative Body as Custodial Trustees on behalf of and for the benefit of the Parish. The Trustees report to the PCC and their accounts are kept separate but consolidated with those of St Mary’s and Christchurch within the Charity Accounts presented with this report.

Property administered by the Priory Trustees includes the Priory Centre, the Tithe Barn and the Holywell Community House. The latter two have been purchased in recent years and their freehold values are shown in the Accounts of this Charity.

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The St Mary’s Winston Appeal also worked under the auspices of the PCC and its accounts are also kept separate but consolidated with those of St Mary’s and Christchurch within the Charity Accounts presented with this report.

Commercial operations undertaken in the Priory Centre and the Tithe Barn were administered by The St Mary’s Priory Trustees. This year the Tithe Barn became a Welsh Centre of Excellence as a legacy from the National Eisteddfod held in Abergavenny in 2016. The Centre is now used by the Aneurin University Health Board and Canolfan Y Ddegwm (The Tithe Centre in English).

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S4C filming at the Opening of the Welsh Centre

Risk Review  

The PCC has conducted its own review of the major risks to which the Charity is exposed and systems have been established to mitigate those risks. The risks facing the Charity include the state of repair of the Churches and the financial requirements to meet its stated activities, including payment of its Annual Parish Share, bearing in mind the fall in the numbers of regular worshippers and the reduction in regular giving. The structure of the Churches is continually monitored by the Finance & General Purposes Committee and the Church’s professional advisers and the finances are controlled by careful budgeting and encouragement and appeals to the worshippers and visitors.

There have been no serious incidents or other matters relating to this charity over the previous financial year that we should have brought to the attention of the Charity Commissioners but have not.

 

Organisational Structure  

The PCC is responsible inter-alia for promoting the mission of the Church, the parochial budget and all expenditure there under, the care and maintenance of the fabric of the Churches and associated buildings and of the Garden of Remembrance, and for action on any other matter referred to it in accordance with the constitution. The PCC is also the normal channel of communication between the parishioners and the Bishop of the diocese. All members of the PCC are volunteers.

In addition to the election of members, the Officers, i.e. The People’s Warden and the Assistant People’s Warden are elected at the annual Easter Vestry; the Vicar appoints the Vicar’s Warden and two Vicar’s assistant wardens at the same meeting. New representatives are told of their responsibilities and of the issues facing the Churches by existing representatives, and receive such additional training as required. Other Officers, including the Secretary, Treasurer and Gift Aid Treasurer are appointed at the first meeting of the PCC after the Vestry Meeting.

As indicated, members of the PCC also serve as representatives on the Deanery and Diocesan Conferences and the Governing Body of the Church in Wales. St Mary’s and Christchurch are active members of Abergavenny Council of Churches and volunteers help run mission events in Abergavenny, including activities for Christian Aid Fortnight, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Easter and Christmas.

The Churches are run entirely by volunteers as the clergy are remunerated by another charity from the Parish Share payments made by all the Churches in the Diocese. Without the work of these volunteers, who, for example, enable St Mary’s to be kept open every day for members of the public to visit and to pray, and the Churches would not function.

As of December 2018 the Charity only employed three people (2.5two full-time equivalent).

 

Committee structure

The PCC met nine times in 2018 but between these meetings, a number of committees meet to support the work of the Churches:

  • The Mission and Outreach Committee (members of which are from all four churches in the incumbency working under the auspices of AACT.)
  • The Finance and General Purposes Committee
  • St Mary’s Winston Appeal Committee (until Autumn 2018)

 

FABRIC

 

Works undertaken at St Mary’s during the year included:

  • The North Walkway, running alongside the north wall of the Church, was lowered (by up to 1 metre) and levelled along its full length and into the Abbot’s Garden beyond to match the floor levels inside the building. The main civil works, which included demolition of a redundant Organ Blower House and filling in a redundant subterranean boiler house, were undertaken gratis by a local Contractor.

 

One of the benefits of lowering the ground level will hopefully be the elimination of the damp penetration through the Church walls which has caused particular problems in the Saint Joseph Chapel. Conversely, one of the consequences was the introduction of a difference in ground levels between the new Walkway and the adjacent Garden of Rest. This has been overcome by the erection of a new wall along the full length with capping stones which will be used to display memorials tothose whose ashes are interred in the Garden. The work commenced in 2018 and is being completed in 2019. It is partly funded from the surplus in the Churchyard Maintenance Fund.

The reduction in ground level also revealed that the north east buttress of the North Transept had no proper foundations. It was already known that this buttress, which contains a spiral staircase providing external access to the Tower, was showing signs of deterioration so the opportunity was taken of designing new access steps to the staircase door that consolidated the ground adjacent to the buttress.

  • The new access steps also formed part of a major scheme to improve the safety of and conditions for both local and visiting Bell Ringers when playing our nationally renowned peal of ten bells. Other works included new ropes for some of the bells, a complete refurbishment of the Ringing Chamber in the Tower and erection of new lath and plaster walls along the passageway between the external staircase and the Ringing Chamber. This scheme was partly funded by the remainder of the Restricted Fund created some years ago from the Mervyn Roberts Bequest which was to be used for the maintenance of bell ringing at St Marys.

 

  • Replacement of the three life-expired gas fired boilers that have served the Church for more than 20 years with two new (much smaller) energy efficient boilers. The new boilers, like those they replaced, have been located in the Narthex at the west end of the Church so the work which had been delayed by issues over permissions could not commence until October. As a result, some regular weekly services in the Church were moved elsewhere for nearly two months. However the new boilers were working in time for the Christmas services and finishing works and final commissioning are taking place in 2019. The new boilers and associated works are being funded by a sizeable, but unrestricted, legacy to the Church from the estate of the late Miss Pauline Sheen.

 

  • New lighting was installed in the Saint Joseph Chapel to the same standard as installed in the rest of the Church in 2013.  This work had been postponed then to permit the other significant Works undertaken in the Chapel in the last 5 years to be completed first.

 

  • The Quinquennial inspection of the Church was undertaken by our Professional Advisers at the end of November. At the time of writing the Report has just been received.

  

FINANCIAL REVIEW

 

RESULTS

The level of direct voluntary contributions at each act of worship, excluding tax reclaimed through Gift Aid, amounted to £74,718 (2017: £76,814), a 2.7% reduction that perpetuates the overall trend of recent years of lower receipts from a diminishing congregation.

Other unrestricted general income, including that generated from fundraising activities, amounted to £175,447 (2017: £132,599), The increase was mainly as a result of a generous bequest of £43,856 from the Estate of the late Miss Pauline Sheen who died on 1 June 2016. It also included a full year’s activity of hiring out the facilities in the Priory Centre and Tithe Barn to external users, often supplemented by the provision of catering.

Following an appeal to the congregation in March, loans totalling £25,300 were received from parishioners in less than a month. By the end of the year, £4,800 had been converted by the donors to Gifts and £1,500 was repaid. In addition a total of £32,149 was received by way of Grants from a number of external bodies while VAT was reclaimed on all compliant expenditure and a total of £14,741 was recovered during the year (2017: £16,243).

During the year the Charity received the final Grant of £11,000, from the total £110,000 awarded, from the Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Scheme towards the Lewis Chapel Roof Repair Scheme, and a final £889 from CADW towards the expenditure by the Winston Appeal Fund on the works in the Lewis Chapel. Other Grants included £10,000 from the Additional Curates Society (on behalf of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament)towards the stipend of the Sub-Prior and £2,000 from the Archbishop of Wales Fund for Children and £3,000 from the No 1 Trust, both the latter towards the costs of the Holywell Community.  In addition the Charity received a Service Charge of £3,000 from the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority associated with the latter’s use of part of the Tithe Barn as the town’s Tourist Information Office.

 

The Charity received no other grants for services delivered, from central or local government during the year. However, Welsh Assembly and Local Authority groups, along with the NHS, were regular users of the meeting and event accommodation provided in the Priory Centre and Tithe Barn.

The level of unrestricted expenditure, other than for exceptional items, amounted to £234,435 (2017: 199,837). The increase was mainly due to the increased costs incurred in the full-year operation of the Priory Centre and Tithe Barn including the provision of catering services to hirers of the facilities.

 

The Parish Share payable to the Diocese during the year was £81,552 (2017: £60,385), the increase reflecting the Charity’s contribution to the Stipend payable by the Diocese to the Sub-Prior. Part of the payment was also used to offset the shortfalls in previous years which were reduced to £19,261 by the year-end.

Expenditure on exceptional items during the year amounted to £106,021 and included:

  • the final payments for the St Joseph Chapel roof repair scheme (£18,602),
  • the refurbishment of the ringing chamber and associated works (£25,264),
  • the new lighting in the St Joseph Chapel (£13,296)
  • interim payments towards the installation of the new boilers in the Church (£26,089)
  • costs associated with the works on the North Walkway (£21,063)

 

The St Mary’s Priory House Company Ltd, which had ceased to trade on 6 October 2017, was finally wound up during the year.

The net assets of the Charity at 31 December 2018 amounted to £324,191 (31/12/2017: £340,002) including freehold properties valued at £362,641 (unchanged). The reduction in assets reflected in particular the use of the remaining funds in the Mervyn Roberts Bequest. The principal liabilities remain the shortfall on the Parish Share and the loan on the Holywell Community House (£59,004), which is due for repayment in September 2023 to which must now be added the £19,000 in outstanding loans received from members of the congregation.

One of the biggest challenges faced by the Charity during the year has been the management of its cash flow given the limited level of financial reserves within which it operates, contrary to its policy but reflecting current realities. During 2018 cash flow has been particularly difficult because, for example, the final tranche of Roof Repair Grant was only paid some months after the works had been completed and the contractors paid in full. Similarly the LPOW VAT repayment scheme has extended its response times, again resulting in significant (2-3 months) delay between payments made for compliant expenditure and repayment of the VAT.

 

RESERVES POLICY

The Parochial Church Council recognises the need to hold reserves to ensure funding is available to provide continuing mission should income levels fall. Reserves are also required to meet the future maintenance programme for the Churches and Church buildings.

A minimum level of reserves also needs to be retained to ensure the PCC can meet its legal commitments should the Charity be unable to continue due to a lack of a sustainable income stream. The Officers of the PCC have established a policy whereby the unrestricted funds not designated for specific use by the PCC or invested in tangible fixed assets, ie. the free reserves held by the Charity, should ideally be between three and six months of the resources expended in general funds.

The Charity is dependent on donations, grants and investment income. The economic climate remains uncertain and interest rates continue at historically low levels, both of which factors are likely to have an on-going negative impact on future income streams.

 

INVESTMENT POLICY

Despite the continuation of historically low rates of interest, the PCC (through its Finance & General Purposes Committee) has concluded the most appropriate policy for investing funds remains to achieve the best possible rate from our Bankers commensurate with maintaining the capability of rapid access to the funds in the event of a call on them.

 

Bankers

Lloyds Bank, 54 Cross Street, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire NP7 5HB

HSBC Bank plc, 2 Frogmore Street, Abergavenny, NP7 5AF

Barclays Bank, 57 Frogmore Street, Abergavenny, NP7 5AT

 

Independent Examiner

Dorrell Oliver Limited, Linden House, Monk Street, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire NP7 5NF

 

Professional Advisers (Historic Buildings)

Arnold Bartosch Ltd, 1 Bath Mews, Bath Parade, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL53 7HL

 

 

Approved by the Trustees and signed on their behalf by The Reverend Canon Mark Soady, Chairman 

26thMarch 2019

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On the date the UK legislated to leave the EU, there will be  a Day of Prayer at St Mary’s Priory Church, Abergavenny.

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The church will be open from 8am – 8pm. During the day people can pray privately or join in set periods of prayer

 

8.15am Monastic Office of Lauds

8.30am Holy Eucharist

9am, 10am & 11am  Prayers on the Hour

12noon Monastic Office of Sext

12.45pm Monastic Office of None

1pm, 2pm & 3pm  Prayers on the Hour

4pm Holy Hour

5pm Litany

6pm Prayers on the Hour

7pm Choral Evensong

 

Introducing the day Canon Mark Soady said;

Whatever one’s view on Brexit, one cannot deny that it has caused much anxiety and division among our fellow Brits. The day is about praying for God to bring peace and unity to us and to our nation.

We will celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary , commonly called Lady Day, on Monday, March 25th.

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The Annunciation by Jez Thomas for St Mary’s Priory 

 

8.30am Holy Eucharist.

 

Details of services over the Triduum and for Easter Day have been announced.

Maundy Thursday

7pm Mass of the Last Supper and Stripping of the Altars (6.30pm Agape Meal at Holy Trinity Church, Baker Street)

followed by the Procession of the Sacrament to the Altar of repose at Holy Trinity Church.

circa 9pm – Midnight: Watch of the Passion (Holy Trinity Church)

Good Friday

In the Morning we will join the Ecumenical March of Witness through the town

2pm Liturgy of the day

7pm Sacred Concert: Stabat Mater CV Stanford

 

Easter Eve

8pm Paschal Vigil

Easter Day

8am Holy Eucharist

9.30am All Age Eucharist

11am Choral Eucharist, attended by delegates from our twin town of Beaupreau.

circa 12noon Concert over Coffee, performed by the Choir of our Twin Town, to mark the Twinning’s 40th Anniversary.

6pm Evensong & Sermon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Sir Trefor Morris, Chairman of St Mary’s Priory Development Trust and our Vicar, Canon Mark Soady joined the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace TODAY  (Tuesday, March 5), to honour Prince Charles and the 50th anniversary of his investiture as Prince of Wales.

His Royal Highness has been Patron of the Priory Development Trust for over 16 years and the Priory site includes the Prince of Wales Courtyard.

The Queen  hosted a daytime reception to mark the milestone, with the Duchess of Cornwall, the Princess Royal, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex joining the Prince of Wales to celebrate.

“This special reception will mark the Prince of Wales’ fifty years of service to Wales, the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, and will be an opportunity to celebrate a range of Welsh charities, organisations and businesses,”

Buckingham Palace said ahead of the event.

The Archbishop of Canterbury  gave a speech at the reception, and guests  enjoyed a musical performance by the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. A special piece had been written for the 50th anniversary by Welsh composer Paul Mealor, inspired by the legend of the Lady of Llyn y Fan, a mountain lake near Princes’ Welsh home, Llwynywermod.

Speaking about His Royal Highness,  The Archbishop of Canterbury said:

We have seen how the honour of being granted that title has been richly repaid – in The Prince of Wales’s love for the country whose name he bears, and in the deep respect he has always shown for the land, for the language, and most of all, of course, for the people

Prince Charles was created the Prince of Wales on July 26, 1958, at the age of nine, but he wasn’t formally invested until he was 20. The ceremony took place at Caernarfon Castle  on July 11, 1969.

Guests included the PM, the Archbishop of Wales and the First Minister.

Fr Mark, Sir Trefor and the other guests at the anniversary reception were able to view the investiture regalia worn by the Prince of Wales on that day.

That included the Investiture Coronet,Sword, Ring and Rod, as well as the Letters Patent for the creation of Charles, Duke of Cornwall, as Prince of Wales.

Among the groups we are welcoming  to the Priory this month are the Friends of Cathedral Music National Gathering and the Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem .

 

Members of the Order St Lazarus will be given a tour of the Priory and after tea join us for Vespers on March 9th.

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The St Lazarus Charitable Trust is a registered charity (286918).  Its trustees are responsible for distributing the bulk of the money raised by members of the Grand Priory for charitable projects, particularly those related to leprosy.

The Trust works closely with expert charities, including The Leprosy Mission (TLM), LEPRA and EMMS,  on a range of projects from sponsoring student medical electives in leprosy-hit areas of the world to supporting local initiatives in India, Nepal and parts of Africa.

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As part of its National Gathering The Friends of Cathedral Music will sing Evensong here on Saturday, March 23rd at 5pm.The music will be: Responses: Ebdon, Canticles: Stanford in B flat Anthem: Wash me throughly – Wesley

Earlier they will have heard our Director of Music talk about the place of music at the Priory, been given a tour of the site and spent time rehearsing for Evensong,

Founded in 1956 FCM ‘s purposes are:

  • To sustain our priceless heritage of cathedral music and support a living tradition
  • To increase public knowledge and appreciation of that heritage and tradition
  • To encourage high standards in choral and organ music
  • To raise money by subscriptions, donations and legacies for choirs in need

Preaching at 8am this morning Fr Mark Challenged the congregation to use the Holy Season of Lent wisely.

Drawing on today’s Gospel (Luke 9.28-43) account of the Transfiguration and what followed he said:

“There is a growing number of people going on Retreat, more an more people value the time of being at the top of the mountain, but our time there is meant to empower us for when we come down from the mountain, empower us to be good disciples of Christ as we see in today’s Gospel reading.

Lent should be a season when we spend some time ‘on the mountain’  / time with God. I encourage you to set yourself a discipline to do that this Lent, so that when we celebrate the Risen Lord on Easter morn in the liturgy you can also celebrate Him in your heart.

We have put in place opportunities to help you spend time keeping your relationship with God:

Please do take advantage of them.

In response to their experience on the holy mountain the disciples wanted to make a thank offering in the building of booths. Jesus declined that offering, but we are called during Lent to Alms giving: not to church buildings but to needy causes. I also urge you to consider what cause you will give to this Lent.

I pray that you and I may be faithful to our Lent discipline …and so grow in our discipleship of Christ.”

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