FRIENDS OF ST LAURENCE CHORLEY COMMITTEE MEETING SATURDAY 23 FEBRUARY, 10.30 ST LAURENCE REFECTORY
Present: Michael Welsh (MW) – Chairman James Laidler (JL) – Acting treasurer, PCC Representative John Davies (JD) Alistair Morwood (AM) Bernard Oakley (BO) - PCC Representative Margaret Shackleton (MS) In attendance Becky Gilbert-Rule (BGR) Apologies: Mark Baybutt, Marjorie Hayward, Neil Kelley, Jane Morwood, Anne Wray
1. Opening remarks MW said that Jane Morwood had had an accident at home yesterday and was confined to bed, unable to attend the meeting. The Committee offered commiserations to Jane and Alistair and best wishes for a speedy recovery. An additional item “Projects selected by the PCC” would be added to #4 2. Minutes of meeting 19 January Adopted 3. Team Reports Secretariat - AM reported on behalf of Jane Morwood A list of members as at 22 February had been produced but could not be circulated as it contained personal information. Communications with committee members would normally be by email or otherwise by letters to be collected from the church. MW said that membership currently stood at 56
Treasurer JL said he had prepared a provisional statement, but there were a number of anomalies in matching members to payments. The bank balance was £2,099.80 and there had been one or two minor payments. MW added that there were currently 56 members of whom 19 had yet to pay their subscriptions with a notional value of £1,075. The Committee agreed that MW would write to the non-payers with a gentle reminder.
Website and Social Media BGR, on behalf of Anne Wray, said that the social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube and Pinterest had been activated and were now being operated on a trial basis. The Team were using a software package, Hootsuite, which allowed them to make multiple postings, this was on a 30 day free trial after which there would be a charge of £75 a year if they were to have all five platforms on Hootsuite. The Team have decided to keep Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on Hootsuite with YouTube and Pinterest separate so that Hootsuite remains free to use. The initial posting had involved a story supplied by David Dickinson that had had an excellent response; there had been an increase in responses to Facebook posts and we now had 6 followers on Instagram including a photographer based in Paris. The scheduled first multiple posting would be made on Tuesday 19 and this would be followed by 3 or 4 others a week scheduled at 2 week intervals. Anne had built up an impressive library of photographs of the Church stained glass and interiors and these would be combined with further stories from David to make the bulk of new posts. For the time being the team would concentrate on the first three platforms – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - and move on two others – YouTube, Pinterest - later. There was a general discussion and the Committee congratulated the team on the progress they had been made and agreed that this was a potentially powerful tool that for providing a virtual meeting place for the local community and was critical to the success of the project. * We need to focus relentlessly in promoting the use of the platforms first to the membership and then to a wider audience as momentum and interest would build if we could attract large numbers of followers and “likes”. Many of our members were not regular social media users and there was something of a generation gap over the use of and familiarity with modern technology and we need to find ways of persuading them to become regular followers. * The possibilities are boundless and there is no lack of ideas. The Team needs to concentrate effort on building up the operation systematically delivering what can be done in the short term and then moving open to the next thing. It is important not to be overwhelmed by attempting too many things at once. * The Team will need to be strengthened with other social media buffs who will probably not be found within the membership, so we need to find ways of recruiting from a broader base. * MW said he had been very disappointed with the failure of members to respond to the request for photographs and comments to post in the members section. He urged committee members to set an example. BGR agreed to prepare a short “idiots guide” explaining how to access the website and our Facebook and Twitter accounts and respond with likes so boosting the number of followers. This would be emailed to all members with a suitable exhortation.
Membership and Recruitment In the absence of Marjorie Hayward, JD gave a brief report on the meeting of the Team earlier this month. The had discussed the possibility of a mass leaflet drop and two members had agreed to undertake the distribution of newsletters. This would involve approaching surgeries, opticians, dentists, lawyers – anywhere where people normally waited for appointments – to see if they would be prepared to display our newsletters and the Committee warmly welcomed this initiative. As regards a leaflet drop it was pointed out that in the past indiscriminate leafleting had produced very poor returns and so precise targeting would be required if the effort was to be justified. The Team is meeting again on February 28 and we look forward to their conclusions and further initiatives in due course.
Local Affinities AM said he was preparing a list of organisations to approach and would be writing to them individually to suggest a meeting to discuss ways in which we might work together It was pointed out that the website had a section – Posts from our Partners – which was available for other organisations to use for promoting their activities; the Heritage society had taken advantage of this facility and it was hoped that WASPI would also do so. We should encourage affinity groups to use the Church facilities for meetings, exhibitions and performances and needed to think how we might improve our offer. The principle attraction of partnerships from our point of view was the opportunity for recruitment of new members and associates for the Friends. Local Business and Sponsorship Nothing to report.
4. Progress Reports Charitable Status Having considered relevant material and guidance provided by the Charity Commission supplied by JL, Jane is recommending that the Friends apply to be a Charitable Incorporated Organisation to work alongside the existing St Laurence Charity. This would enhance the credibility of the organisation and enable it to reclaim Gift Aid on subscriptions and donations and be exempt from VAT. She was planning to meet Simon Robinson next week to discuss any legal issues. She would convene her team – Louise Parkinson and Paul Matthews – to discuss external funding for the projects selected by the PCC. MW said we should establish whether any changes were needed to the existing constitution to comply with Charities Commission standards as this would require a special meeting. The Committee agreed that Jane should be asked to make an application for CIO status on line subject to any legal considerations and authorised her to undertake any necessary negotiations on their behalf. Newsletters MW reported that Newsletter 4 was now at the printers and would be ready for distribution shortly. It provided an account of progress to date including the establishment of the organisation and promoted the launch event of April 5 as well as the website and social media platforms. The Membership Team would be in charge of distribution to new outlets. Two further issues were planned, one to be released in May would deal with the history of the vestry and links with today’s open table and the second to come out in July would look forward to a Mayflower even in November.
Projects The PCC had identified three building maintenance projects and one other that the Friends would be invited to support, details had been circulated separately. * Repair outer two lancets of tower west window £8,000 * Rebuild stone tracery of north aisle west window £25,000 * Re-do lead ridge on organ chamber roof and re- * lead the organ chamber back gutter £9,835 * Repairs to organ £18,000 The following points emerged during a discussion of the proposals: * Given that we are appealing to a wider local audience beyond the regular congregation, we should be cautious about appearing to be interested in only raising money for building maintenance. Local people who are not part of the St Laurence Church family might well wonder why they were being asked to provide funds for the maintenance of St Laurence as opposed to other churches in Chorley. It would be important to include some other projects for improving the church facilities which would give credibility to the Friends appeal for support for the Church as a community asset. * With this in mind, we should agree with the PCC to draw a distinction between essential structural maintenance which is the responsibility of the PCC and additional maintenance to enhance the church furnishings such as the stained glass, preserving its unique appearance and character which would be supported by the Friends. This differentiation would be set out clearly in any appeal literature. * More detail was required of the work to be done on the organ MW is due to meet Tony Checker who is the PCC member responsible for fabric over the next week or so and the Committee agreed that he should pursue the conversation along these lines. The PCC’s proposals are endorsed in principle. 5. Launch Event – 5 April MW presented a provisional budget on behalf of Karen Pemberton which indicated that with 150 attenders we would make a small loss - approximately £200 - and if we got up to 200 there would be a similarly sized surplus. This was acceptable as the objective was to attract new members and potential donors by introducing them to the Friends. The Committee emphasised the extreme importance of getting numbers as close to 200 as possible as a successful event would be crucial in building the momentum necessary to sustain the appeal. Karen’s note indicated that 56 tickets had been sold and two tables booked. MS said that sales were being sought from people using the Church for concerts and other events. MW said he had sold 10 tickets and booked at least 1 table in addition.
Committee members were urged to spare no effort in persuading friends and neighbours to buy tickets and encourage all other members to do the same.
6. Possible Patrons Members were asked to think about suitable names who might be approached.
7. Round Table There was a general discussion in which number of points were raised that are covered elsewhere in the minutes. BO asked if there were connections with the US military that could be exploited; MW said he thought these were extremely tenuous and not too much should be expected from American connections. We hoped to organise our own Mayflower event in November and while interest from the United States was potentially valuable and should be exploited wherever possible it was subordinate to the main task of generating support locally AM mentioned the importance of St Laurence historical connections and it was suggested that we try and capture David Thistlethwaite’s encyclopaedic knowledge of St Laurence and its history with voice recordings perhaps with help from Chorley Little Theatre. MW mentioned a project for linking the historic role of the Vestry with the modern day Open Table. He would attend an Open Table on Monday week. JD emphasised the importance of differentiation in framing the appeals strategy.
8. Any other business None
Next meeting Saturday 13 April – Standish Room
St Laurence’s Church is situated in the centre of Chorley. It is believed that there has been a Church on that site since Anglo Saxon times. St Laurence’s is a unique link with the past providing a vital sense of continuity and local identity.