Annual Report for 2018

St Neots Parish Church APCM  Sunday 28th April 2019

Annual Vestry Agenda

Opening Prayers.

Apologies for absence:.

  1. Minutes of 2018 Vestry Meeting.
  2. Election of Churchwardens for the Parish.
  3. Charities Report.

Annual Parochial Church Meeting Agenda

  1. Minutes of last APCM and matters arising.
  2. Electoral Roll Report.
  3. Annual Report of Parochial Church Council (including subcommittee and organisation reports)
  4. Annual report of the financial affairs of the parish.
  5. Examined accounts of the PCC.
  6. Examined statement of the funds and property in the hands of the PCC.
  7. Report on the fabric, goods and ornaments of the church.
  8. Report of the proceedings of the Deanery Synod.
  9. Election of 5 representatives of the laity to the PCC.
  10. Appointment of sidesmen.
  11. Appointment of Examiner to the PCC.
  12. Safeguarding report.
  13. Vicar’s report.
  14. Date of next meeting.
  15. Any other business
  16. Closing prayers.












St Mary’s Church St Neots APCM 2019


Minutes of St. Neots Annual Vestry Meeting and APCM April 29th 2018

The meeting opened with a presentation of the Parish Development Plan.

Discussion ensued at which the following points were raised:

  • The timescale of the plan and resources required to accomplish it.
  • The growth and success of the Friends of SNPC
  • The discomfort of the pews for extended periods such as concerts
  • The dovetailing of the preceding development plan into the new strategy in order to give it a new impetus
  • The formation of sub-committees and the need for regular updates on progress
  • The importance of two-way communication
  • The need for DAC input, advice and permission for the re-ordering of the building

The meeting continued with the Annual Vestry Meeting

Minutes of the AVM, Sunday April 29th 2018

Attendance:   59

Apologies:      Rhona and Geoff Matthews, Melvyn and Ann Barnsley, Ivan and Alison Smith, Lynn Wells, Robin Hunter, Jacky Isaac and Catherina Griffiths.

1.                     Minutes

                        The minutes of the 2017 AVM were approved and signed. There were no matters arising.

2.                     Election of Church Wardens

                        Philip Barrett nominated Dennis Owen, seconded Moira Owen

                        Ann Williams nominated David Read, seconded Val Freeman

were elected unanimously. The vicar thanked them for their work in the past year and for being willing to continue to serve.

3.                     Charities report

This had been presented prior to the meeting, with the additional comment that monies had been reinvested to accrue greater interest.

The report was approved and John Walker was thanked for his many years’ service.

Minutes of the APCM, Sunday April 29th 2018

Attendance:   59

Apologies:      Rhona and Geoff Matthews, Melvyn and Ann Barnsley, Ivan and Alison Smith, Lynn Wells,    Robin Hunter, Jacky Isaac and Catherina Griffiths.

  1.  Minutes: The minutes of the 2017 APCM were approved and signed. There were no matters arising.
  2. Electoral Roll: Elizabeth Sibson, the Electoral Roll Officer, presented the updated figures for the roll which stands currently at 249, there having been 11 additions and 4 removals during the year.

            She also reminded us that 2019 is the year for the 6 yearly full revision of the roll, and

            that signing on the roll will fulfil the requirements of the GDPR 2018.

  1. Annual Report of the PCC: Reports of subcommittees and organisations were circulated prior to the meeting and were accepted. Those preparing reports and collating them for the meeting were thanked.

            An explanation of the role of Sue Chase, our accountant, was requested and given.

  1.  5, 6 Annual Financial Report:

                       The report, as follows, was presented by Philip Barrett as the position of

                        treasurer is vacant.

                        2017 has been a year of tidying up the accounts using the Xero accounting system, and thanks are due to Sue Chase, accountant, Nichola Donald, administrator and Philip Barrett, church warden for their diligence.

                        The Xero system enables the correct allocation of costs, prompt payment of accounts and a more detailed budget, thus enabling an efficient control of cash flow.

                        Bank accounts and investments have been recorded and checked, and all have the vicar and wardens as signatories. This ensures the best rates of interest for cash and investments.

                        Lynsey Wilson was engaged as the independent examiner and she has commented on the clarity of this year’s accounts, thus making her job much less time consuming.

                        In the accounts presented, income is shown as £144,866, but this includes a £20,000 donation from a local businessman to rebuild the church wall.

                        It is essential, this year and in future years, to increase giving and fund raising activities in order to cover daily running costs.

                        Contracts for gas and electricity, telephone and broadband, copier and printing have been renegotiated, using the Parish Buying Scheme where that would be advantageous. It is anticipated that the resources expended figure of £109,818 will show a reduction in the coming year.

                        Funds are shown clearly as to their allocation.

                        Charitable giving for the year was £6,928.

                        Questions were raised and clarified as follows:

  • Eynesbury church does contribute towards administration costs and this will appear in 2018 accounts.
  • Monies in the flower fund is shown in the allocation named Flower Fund
  • Monies designated as raised for a refreshment station is shown under that allocation
  • Charitable giving is maintained at 10% of regular giving.

It was pointed out that, as a requirement of the Charities Commission, all monies raised in the name of and on behalf of the church is the responsibility of the trustees, i.e. the vicar, wardens and PCC, but can be designated for a specific purpose.

Philip Barrett was thanked for his work in preparing this report and clarifying the accounts.

The report was accepted, proposed John Walker and seconded Peter Raggatt, nem con.

7.                     Fabric, Goods and Ornaments

                        A report was presented prior to the meeting and accepted.

8.                     Deanery Synod

                        A report was presented prior to the meeting and accepted.

                        There were no elections and representatives remain as Peter Raggatt and         

                         Catherina Griffiths.

                        A vacancy exists as Ann Williams is a synod member as a LLM and does not

                        require election.

9.                     Election of PCC members

There were 5 nominations prior to the meeting and one taken from the floor. All were elected as follows to serve for 2-3 years:

Sophie Easey              p. Ann Williams                      s. Angie Robertson

Joanne Bowers          p. Mary Draper                        s. Sylvia Watson

David Dod                  p. Geoff Matthews                 s. Laurie Achurch

Jacky Isaac                p. Nan Rye                              s. Peter Raggatt

Jane Gill                     p. Catherina Griffiths              s. Penny Murfin

Marion Hunter          p. David Wells                        s. Dale White

Christine Green did not seek re-election as she is now a member of the Quaker community, and a letter from her was read out and also published in the parish magazine.

10.                   Sidesmen

                        All those listed in the report:

Christian Laughton, Penny Murfin, Philip Barrett, Jane Gill, John and Janet Walker, Liz Linley, Geoff Browne, Jane Jarvis, Gertrude and Derek Wheel, Alan Ashton,   Rosemary Darrington, Sylvia Masters, Margaret Bail, Marion Noble, Geoff Sodeaux, Rhona Matthews, Nan Rye, Daphne Achurch, Serena Gilbert, Judy Ruff and James Mills were re-appointed.

11.                   Examiner to PCC

                        Lynsey Wilson was appointed for the coming year.

12.                   Date of next meeting

The date of the next AVM and APCM was set provisionally as 28th April 2019, to be ratified at the first PCC meeting which will be at 7.30pm, in church on May 15th.

13.                   AOB


14.                   The meeting closed in prayer at 1.00pm





Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have much pleasure in presenting my 53rd annual report on the proceedings of the Church Charity accounts for the twelve months’ period up to 31st January 2019.

I can today report on the fourth full year of our revised local arrangements for investment that sees the £10,000 invested with the Charities Ethical Investment Fund via the Charity Commission bringing in regular interest to the overall fund.   This £10,000 is made up of 17 individual investments from our various charities ranging from £5,800 from a Rowley Charity to just £20 from the Joan Cromwell Charity.   Grouping these charities permits me to get the best possible return but under Charity Commissioners regulations the accounting has still to be kept on a strict individual basis.   Our investment income this year based on a further increased return in the Stock Market increased to £1,524.97 and our reinvestment means that our balances are almost certainly guaranteed to rise each year, although by perhaps a diminishing amount given the rather rapid reduction in investment return on overseas equities because of the financial markets’ anticipation of the effects of Brexit.

This year I have been able once again to contribute £540 towards the insurance of the Church Windows (a slight increase) as well as our customary Christmas time distribution, and with the approval of the Trustees I have been able to donate a further £400 to the St Neots Food Bank.  As a net result the overall value of the fund has increased by a further £189.97 to £13,847.46.   The Trustees will continue to consider future distribution in line with the instructions of the initial legatees.

I trust the meeting will feel able to approve this report.                                      John Walker

Safeguarding Report

Since the last AGM there has been one safeguarding issue concerning St Marys Church members.  This has been fully reported to and handled by the Diocesan Safeguarding Office at Ely.  The case is still ongoing having been initiated back in July 2018.  No names or details can be revealed of course.

In accordance with national Church of England policy, the PCC has adopted the House of Bishops “Promoting a Safer Church Safeguarding Policy Statement” as the standard policy for safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults in our parish. Copies of the statement and the Parish Safeguarding Handbook (2018) are downloadable from the parish website, and printed copies are available in church and in the parish office.

Tuesday 19 July 2018 - I attended a garden party at Ely hosted by Bishop Stephen.  This was a get together of all safeguarding officers in the diocese and a chance for the bishop to emphasise the importance of the policy and thank everyone for being involved.

22 September 2018 attended a safeguarding training/networking morning at the Hub, Cambourne.  This was run by the office at Ely. On 28th September 2019 am booked on another such morning at Cambourne.                                                                      Tony Murfin


The PCC has met regularly to discuss affairs of the parish; to approve the budget and monitor finances and approve charitable giving; to discuss and approve necessary repairs to the fabric including the rebuilding of the churchyard wall funded by a gift. Martin McFarlane, Deanery Treasurer spoke about the benefits of the Parish Giving Scheme (PGS) which was launched on Stewardship Sunday in October. A Strategy Planning Day took place in January to look at the way forward for the parish and resulted in a draft Implementation Plan. Archdeacon Hugh and Revd Mike Booker visited the February meeting to draw attention to the Market Towns strategy which will affect the southern end of the diocese eventually with support of funding from the Church Commissioners. As a result, there was a joint PCC meeting with Eynesbury Church to discuss the way forward as a team ministry. There have been subsequent discussions between both churches. Concerns about Homelessness led to the setting up of Friday Food which although not attracting those who are homeless, it is supporting those in need. In view of the concerns that offertory donations are becoming less as we are becoming a cashless society, the PCC has been investigating contactless donations.  Catherina Griffiths

Standing Committee

The Standing Committee to the PCC consists of the churchwardens, the vicar, PCC Secretary, treasurer and Vice Chair. The Standing Committee meets regularly in advance of meetings of the PCC in order to:

  • Progress items previously agreed by the PCC
  • Generate new policies for PCC consultation
  • Monitor work in progress
  • To set PCC agendas
  • Exceptionally to take urgent decisions in between PCC meetings.


 Welcome Team

The welcome team rota also incorporates the Readers, Intercessors and the Offertory and in total 73 members of the congregation regularly help with one or more of these roles. There are 26 people who regularly form part of the welcome team including the five team leaders and several who help occasionally. We are grateful to Alan Ashton, Margaret Bail, Geoff Browne, Margaret Gates and Marion Noble  whose contributions over the years have been invaluable but who have all stepped down now  for various reasons. We have sadly also lost Lesley Smith, Godfrey Darrington & Margaret Wilson.

We have tried to recruit younger families to the welcome team for the All Age Family services and this has met with some success.   There are two families who help occasionally and two who help regularly. We are delighted to welcome to the team this year June Wilson, Lottie Taylor and Jean Underwood. There are nine people who are regular Intercessors and three people who participate occasionally. There are eight couples and four people who volunteer to take up the Offertory week by week and there are 32 people who regularly read the Old  and New testament readings. As you may imagine there are people who will stand in at short notice to help out and their contribution is invaluable.

 I am very grateful to each and everyone for their unstinting willingness to help.  

                                                                                                                       Christian Laughton                                                                                                                                                 

Sidespeople: Daphne Achurch,  Phil Barrett, Caroline Carter, Rosemary Darrington, Serena Gilbert, Jane  Gill,  Anna, Marianne & David Gorton,  Jane Jarvis, Christian Laughton, Liz Linley, Sylvia Masters, Rhona  Matthews, James Mills,  Penny  Murfin,  Jenny, Natasha, Suzannah & Michael Pepper, Bev Rawlings with Andrea, Adam & Holly,  Judy Ruff, Nan Rye, Geoff Sodeaux, Lottie Taylor,  Jean Underwood,  Janet & John Walker,  Sylvia Watson,   Gertrude & Derek Wheel,  Dale & Rosie White,  June Wilson.

Fabric, Goods and Ornament


The annual checks of the Inventory has been made and noted for the additions and deletions since 2017. This has been quite year with limited projects within the Church 2018. We had to repair the chime works on the clock and had a donation from the Friends. The replacement of the church wall - an architect has been engaged and faculty raised to cover this work which commenced with trial holes being dug and the existing foundations being inspected then specification and drawings modified. We expect the wall to be rebuilt starting in 2019 probably in three phases.  

We would again like to record grateful thanks to all who assist with the varied tasks and fund raising including the Friends, in and around the church. More help is always useful.

AnnWilliams / Philip Barrett.  Churchwardens

Deanery Synod


The Synod has met four times during the year to discuss matters of interest for the parishes of the deanery. There are continued concerns over the Ministry Share and how parishes are struggling to pay their portion of it. Canon Janet Perrett keeps the synod informed with reports of the General Synod meetings and the Rural Dean passes on information from the diocese. At the July synod, Tara Skey updated the deanery on progress with youth work. Higher Tour, an outreach programme for young people took place in local secondary schools and culminated in an evangelical concert in Eaton Socon Church in October. The Searchlight Theatre Company also produced “Would you Adam and Eve it” in SNPC in September, aimed mainly at younger people but attended by all ages. Several church members took part in Safeguarding training organised by the deanery at Lt Paxton in September. The last meeting on the year focussed on recent lead thefts and parishes shared information on how to prevent this.                                                                                                    Catherina Griffiths



Sub-committee Reports

Mission and Care

The Mission and Care Committee has met once during the year to discuss the allocation of charity monies and any business relating to mission, both worldwide and locally. Thank you letters from the charities we support are displayed on the Mission Board in church. Rachel Ulmer visited in July and was able to join us at the Parish Barbecue.

A small team from St Mary’s visits Hinchingbrooke Hospital twice a year to assist at the chapel services by pushing patients in wheelchairs to the chapel and provide a supporting congregation. There has been internal reorganisation and the chaplaincy team are now being administered by Peterborough Hospital. This has meant special training which all the volunteers have now taken part in.

The pastoral care team continue to visit some members of the congregation and take regular Home Communion to those who are housebound. Bereavement visitors although no longer meeting regularly, continue support those recently bereaved. However the team of visitors has depleted in recent years and more volunteers are needed.

Social Committee

The Social Committee meets three or four times a year. There are usually about 6 members attending and I currently chair.

Its purpose is to provide opportunities for the church community to come together for social events and opportunities to get to know each other better and to have fun!

Food plays an important part in many of our events and we are hugely fortunate that Jacky and Andrew Isaac provide their time and expertise to mastermind the catering side of our activities.

Over the last year there has been a Family Barbecue, lunches for Messy Church days, Frugal Good Friday lunch, Harvest Lunch, a quiz, and a very well received “Noughties” lunch party.

We are not a fund-raising group but charge just enough to cover expenses with any carry-over going towards the children’s Messy Church lunches etc.

We are planning to run a similar programme of events in the coming year and would warmly welcome new members and ideas!                                                                           Carol Way

St Neots PCC Fundraising & Giving Committee Annual Report

The committee had its first formal meeting in September last year and has met regularly since then. The objectives of the committee are to raise money to:

  1. fund ministry and charity giving, £5-10K per annum, the PCC Standing Committee proposed this be raised to £15-20K
  2. fund building work

Both of the above to be integrated with other church activities e.g. Social Committee.
The committee has focussed on objective 1 until outline building plans are agreed by the PCC.

The following fundraising ideas are being currently considered (in addition to those from Social Committee and Friends of St Neots Church):

  • Additional Opening of Church Tower:  this was tried in October Half Term and raised approximately £200, additional school holiday openings are being planned.
  • St Neots Festival with Flowers: this is being planned for 27-29 September with a fundraising target of £5-8k, this is currently the committee’s main focus.
  • Beer/Gin Festival (with Carols?), Autumn 2019
  • “Come Dine with Me” at people’s houses
  • Ceilidh
  • Guided Tours of Church
  • Offer tea/coffee & open church, evening of town Christmas Light switch on Nov 2019

The main constraint on fundraising remains the availability of church members’ time to organise and support events.                                                                                    David Wells

Church Organisations

Choir Report                           ‘Psallam Spiritu et Mente’

The choir continues to lead worship at most services apart from Taizé but including weekday services such as Ash Wednesday and Ascension. A number of the choir also attend the sung Lenten Compline service on a Friday evening. We have one evensong a month which is normally a cathedral style service.

We have seven children in the choir. One has passed their RSCM ‘White Level’ and is working towards the Light Blue level. The others are working hard on their white level.

Our cathedral visits last year were at Southwark Cathedral in London on 9th June 2018 and St. Edmundsbury on 10th November. The St Eds Service was excellent and we received a very positive letter of thanks from the precentor. This year we are singing at Peterborough Cathedral on 2nd March 2019, Tewkesbury Abbey on 20th July 2019 and Norwich cathedral on 12th October 2019.

Advent and Christmas gave us a chance to sing a wide variety of seasonal music. Both the Advent Carol Service and The Christmas Carol Service were well attended. This year it was lovely to welcome Ros Way and Richard Barnett back to sing with us. Both are Bishops Senior Award holders, something perhaps for our younger members to aspire to.

We need more singers especially in the Contralto and Bass parts. It has been good to welcome Joanne Bowers to the Contralto section. If you know anybody who would like to sing in the choir on a regular basis please point them in my direction.                                          Lloyd Barnett, Director of Music



Wintringham Road Housegroup

We have met fortnightly on Monday evenings during school term times except for Lent and are made up of about 13 members. It is an open group and others are always welcome.  The summer began with a number of sessions on some surprising aspects of Jesus. We moved on to a fairly detailed look at what we mean by ‘the Bible ‘ and  about what we might mean when we say it is ‘inspired’ and lastly, the variety of books that comprise the Bible and how they came to have authority.

In Advent we had a look at some of the various themes of the season such as ‘Waiting ‘and ‘Hope’.

Between Christmas and Lent we shared some sessions on ‘Ageing‘.

After Easter we are planning to compose a book of prayers and pictures to be available in the church for the use of both church members and visitors.

We are hugely grateful to Elsie and Roy Gill for their hospitality.                        Derek Draper


St Mary’s Guild

We have had a variety of activities during the year including a practical craft evening led by Andrea Eckloff; Wendy Ibbett spoke about the Coffee Pot Club and living with the various forms of dementia; Fr Paul and Judy gave an interesting talk on renovating an old house; David Rudd found more historical tales to tell us and Peter Lang spoke about HMS Jervis Bay, the story of an heroic ship. We have also met for afternoon tea in Poppy’s and started the year with a meal out.

Thank you to all who have helped arrange the meetings especially Bev Rawlings, our president.

The Guild meets on the third Thursday of the month, at 7.30pm in the Church Room.  There is no membership subscription, or election. Anyone is welcome to join for as many or as few meetings as they want. Come along to the AGM to decide next year’s programme. Suggestions of possible speakers are always welcome!                               Catherina Griffiths

Mothers Union

The year began once again with a New Year lunch for all in The Eaton Oak.  Mothers’ Union work is rooted in prayer and someone somewhere throughout the world is praying for us. Unfortunately our usual Quiet Afternoon in March had to be cancelled due to snow. We met during the Wave of Prayer in December to pray for our link dioceses in Lusaka, Zambia; Shyogwe, Rwanda; Skoto and Ikka in Nigeria; and Karimnagar in India. Once again in August we celebrated Mary Sumner Day by attending the Wednesday lunchtime Eucharist. We were joined by several MU members from the deanery and the planned picnic in the churchyard turned into a shared lunch in church due to heavy rain. The programme during the year had to be changed frequently due to other unforeseen circumstances. Speakers during the year included Robert Manderson, who spoke about life in Kings College from the perspective of a verger; Revd Valerie Kilner, the MU Diocesan Chaplain led an evening entitled “In Mary Sumner’s Footsteps”; Judy Ruff spoke about her experiences as an OFSTED Inspector; In May members lunched at Jordan’s Mill, Biggleswade. In June we held a tea party in The Church Rooms to raise funds for AFIA (Away From It All holidays for families) and several of our members attended the MU Garden Party in the Bishop’s Garden at which we were privileged to meet Lynne Tembey, our Worldwide President. Our last event of the year was to host the Deanery Christmas Party when the theme was Surprises and at this we collected money and gifts for the Refuge. At the AGM in October Catherina Griffiths handed over the leadership of the branch to Liz Elson who was officially welcomed to the role in church during the Family Eucharist.

The Travelling Crib which visited many homes in the parish during advent, returning to church at the Family Carol Service on Christmas Eve. MU is also involved with many local as well as international projects.  Two of our members continue to attend the service in the chapel at Littlehey Prison each month to support inmates and also help with a monthly Coffee and Chat morning for prisoners who do not get visitors. Just before Christmas the MU Relationships Course was restarted at the prison and there are plans to continue this in 2019. Several members help with Tots Praise, and many other activities in the life of our church.

Mothers Union is not an organisation just for mothers or women – it is open to all who share its vision – “to bring about a world where God’s love is shown through loving, respectful and flourishing relationships”. We meet together on the first Thursday of the month in the Church Rooms at 7.30pm and all are welcome.

For more information contact Liz Elson (211726) (or Mary Draper (384031).

Children’s Activities   

Holy Terrors Report  2018


The Holy Terrors is the Church social club for children in the last 2 years of primary school.  This year we only have 4 from Eynesbury Parish Church – none from St Neots).  We meet for one and a half hours on Mondays during term time. They are very regular in attendance.  Activities are varied and sometimes dependant on the season and weather.  We do quite a lot of cooking, play indoor and outdoor games, handcrafts, quizzes and celebrate seasonal things.  For Harvest Thanksgiving the children make the loaves for both St Neots and Eynesbury Churches.  At Christmas we have a Carol party and to end the year we have a barbeque in the summer, for the children and their families, both hosted by the children.  The rest of the report is in their own words.                                                                                            Eileen Raggatt

I think that the barbique is one of the best things that the holy terrors do because we are celebrating what we have accomplished and we prepare it not for ourselves but for our parents. Never trust Holy terras with paper mache.

Holy Terrs is a brilliant time because we love backing, games and orogane (origami) in the orogane we made water bombs, paper clappers. We also made pinartas & do alot of fun things.

I’ve enjoyed when we made the Chinese new year dragon. I’ve enjoyed all the games. I’ve enjoyed everything it is all so fun.

I love the baking because we get to learn how to do stuff our self. I also like parties and BBQs which we prepare and host.                                                            Isla, Liam, Louie and Mia

Play Church

 Play Church continues to flourish. We meet weekly on Wednesdays during term-time in the Church Rooms from 09:30 to 11:00. We provide a safe space for the children to play, for the parents / carers to chat, make friends and support one another and for everyone to encounter God through worship, Bible stories and prayer.


There is a core of families who attend regularly and many others who dip in and out. During 2018 the average attendance per week was 25, which includes babies, toddlers, mums, dads, grandparents and representatives from the Church. Our community is ever-changing as new babies are welcomed, toddlers move onto pre-school, mums return to work after maternity leave and new parents / carers find us.


I still co-ordinate Play Church, but it is very much a team effort. There is a group of 3 mums who share the practicalities of unlocking and setting up each week and all of the mums (and dads and grandparents) help out during the sessions. Julie (one of the mums) now leads the majority of the services, with Father Paul and Ann stepping in when she is not able to. Julie, who is a Primary School teacher, does a wonderful job of engaging the children in the Bible stories and often organises craft activities which link to the stories. We are very fortunate to have her support.


We are also very fortunate to have a wonderful team of ladies who serve refreshments. Thank you so much ladies, your help is so greatly appreciated and a special thank you to Sylvia for putting the team together.


Please keep Play Church, and the families who come, in your prayers. If anyone would like to come along to see what we do and to meet the families you would be most welcome.

                                                                                                                         Catherine Weaver

St Neots Handbell Ringers

The team has struggled on through the year with only 8 members which means that our repertoire is very limited. We managed to perform for a fundraising barbecue at Fenstanton in the summer, which was challenging in that one of our ringers had to drop out at the last minute due to a broken shoulder. Jane Jarvis, in spite of this being her first public performance, saved the day by filling in for the missing ringer! The team also performed at the WW1 Armistice Centenary celebrations at Hilton in November.

We continue to meet on Sunday evenings at 8pm.

Anyone wishing to learn should contact Catherina Griffiths (393372).

Tower Bell Ringers

Attendance for Sunday service ringing has improved and we were able to ring for services over Christmas despite many regulars being away for the festive season. We have also been able to ring again for the monthly Choral Evensong as well as other extra services. We are grateful to those who help out on Sunday mornings before dashing off to ring at Eaton Socon. Alan Winter has passed the running of the monthly 10 bell practice over to Alban Forster. The attendance fluctuates but there has been a reasonable standard of striking.

The bells were rung on Sunday 11th November to celebrate the centenary of the Armistice. The half muffled ringing that day will be remembered for a long time by the ringers.

During the year 4 successful quarter peals and 1 peal were rung on the bells.

We said farewell to Christine Tankersley in July as she returned to her native USA. She managed to ring a second quarter peal before she left and several members of the band joined her in a farewell dinner.

David has co-ordinated the start of the long overdue frame painting. Most of the metal has been undercoated. Thanks to all who helped with this. The task for next year is the top coat.

Thank you to all who have rung for services and supported practice nights during the year.

Catherina Griffiths                                                                                                    

Christians Together in St Neots (CTSN)

Churches Together in St Neots (now retitled Christians Together in St Neots) reached a watershed in 2018. There have been declining numbers attending executive committee meetings and the regular programme of joint acts of worship. At the AGM, held in September, The Revd Paul Beard and Vivien Almond stepped down as chair and secretary and there were no volunteers to fill the vacancy.

At a subsequent meeting in November, Canon Dr Paul Andrews agreed to coordinate a revision of how we operate, to be reviewed at the next AGM. It was decided to end the (purely notional) link with the national organisation Churches Together in Britain and Ireland in order to include churches whose policy precludes them from participation in national church structures, and to rebrand as Christians Together in St Neots.

There has been much discussion of where we are and how we can revitalise ecumenical partnership in the town. There is a feeling that we are stuck in a 50 year old time warp, and that the future lies in less formal organisation, and more specific joint projects. Examples of these are the Foodbank, ACTIOS, The Christian Care Centre, Christian Performing Arts, Higher Cambs, Friday Food, Littlehey Prison Worship group etc

There is a need for a light touch formal structure to keep financial accountability. One meeting per year should suffice.

Advice and a steer has been sought from ministers and leaders of all the churches, who meet regularly for prayer and fellowship. It is hoped that there can be some radical reorganisation during 2019.                                                                                                                                                           Fr Paul

Men’s Forum Group

We have continued with the Churches Together in St Neots Men’s Forum. This meets once a month usually at the Berkley Street Methodist Church. Members from the Methodist, URC, St Marys Eaton Socon and St Mary attending. This included activities (Games evening, Outdoor bowling and snooker evenings) also a visit to a farm near Northill Beds to see heavy horse being looked after and working which was enjoyed by all. Later in the year we had a visit the Chicksands Intelligence Museum to see methods of intelligence gathering during the history of the armed services. This was very interesting and well attended. We also had evenings of talks by guest speakers on illustrated talks on The Royal Observer Corps, Carers Concern, Police accident Procedure, and I saw the battle of St Neots by our own Peter Raggatt. These were open meetings including wives and partners which took place during the year. In the summer we had a barbecue at John Wrycrofts and the year was brought to an end with a New Year’s Dinner.

We had more people from St Marys attending and more are always welcome as it is good to meet members from other churches in the town and the subjects discussed are very interested.

Planned evenings for 2019 including Talks on Great North Road, Bread, Gliding, Railway Modelling.  Visits to see Ely, St Ives Boat trip, Botanical Gardens Cambridge, Auctioneers Peacocks, these are all Open Meetings (Light Green 2019 programme card available in the Church)                                                                                                               Philip Barrett. 

Book Group 

The book group meets every six to eight weeks. We are members of Cambridgeshire Libraries reading groups and pay a small annual fee for this service. The library has an extensive list of reading group books and members choose from this list. This year we have sampled a variety of books both fiction and non-fiction.

We have read:-

Merivel: A Man of his time – Rose Tremain

Exposure – Helen Dunmore

Longbourn – Jo Baker

Badgerlands - The Twilight World of Britain’s Most Enigmatic Animal – Patrick Barkham

Best Kept Secret - Jeffrey Archer

The Secret Scripture – Sebastian Barry

The Storyteller – Jodi Picult                                                                             Jenny McLeod



Peace Vigil

The Vigil for Peace continues, with a core of three regular supporters. Members of the public join us from time to time either to stand with us or to have a brief discussion of any issues of concern.

 After two years and four months of taking place every week, we decided in January this year that the vigil would change to the first Friday of the month. This was due to the changing availability of myself as main organiser. My commitments have altered over that time, and as I am one of the three who were always able to be there, we decided it wasn't viable to continue weekly should one of the other two be ill or away, leaving just one person if i wasn't there too.

To have the vigil reliably present on a set day is, we  felt,  more important than greater frequency, should a more frequent arrangement mean that some weeks others turned up and found no-one there. The new arrangement has been working well. We still feel the vigil is very worthwhile and we receive many supportive comments from passers-by even if they can't stay. 

We still meet at the same time 1.15 - 2.15pm.                                                    Christine Green

Food Bank

The Foodbank has had another extremely busy year.

This is good news in so far as it demonstrates the generosity of local people in giving their time and money to this work, but sad news that the need in a town like St Neots continues to increase. For example at Christmas 242 hampers were distributed to needy families and in total over the last year 21.6 tonnes of food have been distributed.

In addition the scheme for vouchers for fresh fruit and vegetables which can be redeemed at Hamiltons has proved a success – this is a great initiative as the Foodbank itself is not able to store or distribute fresh produce.

Many thanks to all who have donated food and money over the last year – please continue to do so via the collection points at Tesco, Waitrose, and the Co-op or if this is not possible directly to me would be fine. I will continue to provide regular information on particular foods needed, but tinned meat and fish are always particularly welcome.

If anyone would like to look into volunteering or supporting via a standing order please speak to me – that would be so helpful. Many thanks                                                         Carol Way

Friday Food

Friday Food is an initiative to provide a meal every Friday evening for those who are homeless, sleeping rough, vulnerable, having difficulty making ends meet. It involves volunteers from many of the Christian churches in the town and is organised by a steering group with volunteers from SNPC.

A rota of four (now five) volunteers - each week to include a male volunteer – prepare and serve food to any ‘guests’ who come between 6pm and 8pm. Menus vary, but it has recently been decided to keep the meals simple and wholesome. Volunteers, who are not on the rota that week, often pop in to catch up with guests and help out if necessary.

We have joined the ‘Fareshares’ scheme through which we are able to collect surplus, near sell-by date food from Tesco and Waitrose each Thursday evening. This is then distributed to our guests to take home with them, or it is frozen to be used at a later date, or, occasionally, used in the meal preparation for the Friday meal. We don’t know what we are likely to be given, but in the past, have had a lot of bread, mince pies, fruit and fresh vegetables which are of particular benefit to the folk who come.

In the first instance, flyers are given to those in need via the food bank distribution points in the town. We have six or seven regulars and have had up to 14 sitting and eating together. Our Christmas dinner, with a huge turkey, donated by Waitrose, and all the trimmings, was enjoyed by guests and volunteers eating together.

Friendships and a community spirit has grown between the guests and the volunteers and more than one describe it as the highlight of the week, and what keeps them going through the other days. One ‘guest’ has secured a job and is now a volunteer. Another is hoping to volunteer in the coming year. A third has received lots of practical help following an accident, and more than one person has come to church on a Sunday!!

We are looking to expanding our outreach in the coming year and welcome support from anyone who would like to join us.                                                                        Ann Williams.

Report from Love’s Farm 2018-2019

I have now been in post for four and half years as pioneer minister (community chaplain) on Love’s Farm.  I remain extremely grateful to Paul for all his support over that time and grateful to all those who prayed and planned toward pioneer ministry on Love’s Farm in the years before my appointment.  I’m so very conscious that both Paul’s support and those efforts laid a foundation that I have had the privilege of building on.

Breakfast Church continues to meet every Sunday except for the first Sunday of the month – we are a growing community of between 50-60 people gathering each week.  Our mid-week groups also continue with small numbers gathering to learn and grow together.  As a community our three key words continue to be: community, encounter and discipleship – those words acting as something of a lens by which we review our various activities asking ourselves to what extent are we building community, facilitating encounter and encouraging discipleship. 

We celebrated our third ‘birthday’ as Breakfast Church back in October with a joyous morning spent remembering our story so far and reflecting on the ways in which we had grown and matured.  It was lovely to be reminded of the path we’d been on and of the lessons we were learning as well as think about the ways in which God was using us as a community to serve our wider community.

Accessibility remains a priority to us and to that end we have continued to host the Love’s Farm House community café on a Tuesday morning.  As a diocese we seek to be a visible and generous people of God and those of us without a dedicated building need to think a little harder, or at least differently, about visibility!  So, in order to be easily accessible and simply present in our community Tuesday mornings is a time you can find some of us serving coffee and cake and chatting! 

In a further attempt to be more accessible and in light of our community demographic in October 2017 we launched a monthly Messy Church that continues to run on the first Friday of the month straight from school.  Attendance remains pretty steady at around 100 children and grown ups.  At our March Messy Church one mum said as she was saying goodbye that every Messy Church she had attended had given her something to take away and think about – ‘yay for God – yay for Messy Church’ she said as she was leaving!  It’s always good to get some feedback like that.  We know too that some of the children that come especially enjoy the mess and crafts and songs and loud AAAAAA – mens, which is also good to see as Messy Church is a pretty big job!   We have a small core team who help to plan and organise, with a wider team helping at activity tables and in the kitchen.  Becky Symms, who is currently in training as an ALM (children and families), takes a significant lead on Sundays with our children and at Messy Church and continues to do an excellent job, although is currently mostly out of action following some spinal surgery.

Lynda Cronin has also just completed training as a pioneer ALM and is hugely supportive across the range of things we’re engaged in as church on Love’s Farm.

Outside of Sundays and Messy Church Fridays, our service to the community happens in a variety of ways and we’re grateful to the teams of volunteers who work to make that happen.  Little Loves, our parent and toddler group, has grown hugely since starting with a regular attendance of around 100; we’re about to celebrate our third birthday!  To further serve the families that attend Little Loves we have recently offered a ‘Parent Talk’ parenting course which has been really well received and something we hope to be able to repeat.

Our junior youth club continues to meet on a Friday evening where 30 children gather for the usual mix of fun, crafts, toast, tuck and games.  After Easter we are planning to host a Youth Café on a Thursday afternoon between 3.30-5.30pm.  This will be supported by Natasha Clark and be modelled on the Thrive Youth Cafes that she has helped to launch in Huntingdon and Brampton.  It is our hope that our small cluster of current Year 6s will help to shape the Café as part of the work we do them under the banner ‘Young Leaders, Young Learners’.

We continue to enjoy a great relationship with our local school where I am actively involved in all sorts of ways.  Lynda and I have continued with an early intervention coaching programme that offers one hour, to one child, once a week for one year.  We continue to hope that for the children involved it will prove to be a helpful contribution to their school experience, enabling them to remain engaged and supported.   Alongside that I offer regular assemblies, serve as a governor and am available for work based chaplaincy.

Last year in my APCM report I wrote that one of the areas that we would love to see growth in is a work across the community to provide money advice and debt counselling and that we were exploring the option of offering a community money advice service.  Over this past year we have recruited and trained a team, registered with the FCA and opened the service running out of the Round House School and community centre.  So far we have seen around 10 people for debt and budgeting advice…

Last summer a group of about 20 of us headed down to Somerset and take part in the annual New Wine Christian festival.  This was as we anticipated another significant step on our journey as a church and provide a unique opportunity for us to gather with thousands of others to explore and experience community – encounter and discipleship!  This year we will go again but there will be around 30 of us and the festival has relocated to Peterborough!  One of our take away lessons from that summer experience was the benefit of simply being together and the opportunities that presented for mutual informal and social learning.  Subsequently it has seemed right for us to do more ‘all age – all in’ Sunday mornings, staying together to explore a bible story or theme and by so doing sow seeds of faith that might grow and mature at home.

Alongside these various activities a number of us serve our community through involvement with the Love’s Farm Community Association and Love’s Farm House trustee team – both these provide opportunities to engage with things like our community SMART days or annual Great Get Together and Big Lunch weekends and much more besides as a way of contributing to making Love’s Farm a place where people want to live.

As you will have seen work is well underway across Cambridge Road on the Wintringham site with the new primary school due to open in September 2020 ahead of the proposed 2,800 homes across the site.  We are committed to praying and serving as that community takes shape, trusting in God’s promise to build his church as we seek to faithfully be, and make, disciples.                                                                                                                 Helene Tame

The Friends of St Neots Parish Church Registered Charity 1178630

The Friends is an independent non-religious charity founded in 2014 and it can spend its money only on restoration and beautification of the church and churchyard. Anyone can be a member on payment of an annual subscription. It holds an AGM - next one 15th May 2019. Please note the dates and support our next fund-raising events and/or become a member.

 So far The Friends has raised money by organising concerts and other similar events. In its financial year 2017-18 it raised £7200 and spent £5500 on  the new cushions. In calendar year 2018 we had an excellent concert in the Church in March by The RAF Wyton Concert Band. This raised £1600. We held a Wine Cheese and Paté social in October that raised £540. But we also have subscription income of about £1050 a year.  The recent concert by the Choir of Ely Cathedral was very successful raising £2200. We do not yet have final figures for the Friends Financial year ending April 2019.


"Hexachordia - Puddings and Pies"  15th June 2019  7.00 pm

This is a variant of our Wine, Cheese and Paté event.  The early music group Hexachordia will perform music on authentic instruments of the time, you will be able to see the instruments up close and ask questions and this will be followed by a buffet with authentic food of the same period specially prepared by an expert chef. Tickets are a limited number because of the catering.

"Hatstand Opera" on 16th November 2019  7.30pm

We are delighted to welcome them back. They gave a very successful, entertaining and amusing performance for us in 2016.                                           Peter Raggatt (Hon Secretary)