Annual Parochial Church Meeting 2024


This took place in church on the 24th April. The Minutes of the APCM of 2023 were approved and signed off (copy below).

There being no other nominations, the meeting re-elected Mrs. Lesley McDonald and Mrs. Judith Hobbs to serve another year as Churchwardens.

There being no other nominations, the existing members of the PCC (Mr. Kevin Turner, Mr. Miles Campbell, Mr. Paul Strowlger, Mrs. Susan Strowlger and Miss Sarah Hills) were elected en-bloc to serve another year. Mr. Turner was elected to continue as Lay Chair, and Mr. Strowlger as Vice Chair.

Mrs. Hobbs, who has been acting Treasurer for some time, agreed to be formally appointed as Treasurer.

There has been no Secretary to the PCC for several years. Mr. Alan Colton has been acting as Minutes Secretary, and agreed to continue, but did not wish to take on full secretarial duties. It was suggested that Mr. Colton and Mrs. Hobbs share the role of Secretary between them and this was agreed.

Mr. Colton also offered to take over the role of Electoral Roll Secretary for 2024, which was accepted. A new Roll is due to be prepared in 2025.

Copies of the Churchwarden’s Report, the Treasurer’s Report, the Electoral Roll Report and the Village Hall report, which were all presented to the meeting, appear below. A copy of the audited annual accounts are available on request.


The Somerleyton Group has remained in Interregnum, with services at Lound approximately every six weeks. However, the PCC having decided that we should have more services, and with the generous offer of Fr. Anthony Long to take the 4th Sunday each month, we have begun to schedule two services every month, starting with Palm Sunday. The 2nd Sunday will be covered from our pool of retired clergy who have been helping us throughout the interregnum. Fr. John Fellows unfortunately won’t be available for these, but Leslie is able to involve him by asking him to take ‘special’ services such as Ascension Day.

There will now be a clash with other churches in the Benefice on the 2nd and 4th Sundays each month, but Leslie has tried to arrange the schedule so that the clash is with a different church each time. Whilst the break-up of the Benefice will happen sooner or later anyway, and we are ready to go our own way, we would also like the transition to be as gentle as possible. We have all been together for 30 years and do not want the rest of the Group to feel that we are simply ‘dumping’ them.

We hope that with a regular service pattern and proper advertising our numbers will increase. They have held up fairly well, but we need new and younger members to carry the church forward. With regard to new input and new faces, I should perhaps add here that we now have an enthusiastic group of bell ringers, who come before each service. This is greatly appreciated, and the village likes to hear the bells as well! Thanks to Miles Thomas, who was instrumental in getting the group started, and organizes it as necessary.

At the beginning of February Cindy Baldwin, Churchwarden at Hemsby, and I, had a meeting with Bishop Ian, the new Bishop of Thetford, which was very encouraging. We felt that he grasped and understood the difficulty of attracting applicants for our post, not least the question of accommodation and the unsuitability of Corton Rectory as the clergy house. He made some very positive and constructive suggestions, and promised to talk to Fr. Philip Corbett/SMF, and Bishop Norman, about a possible new approach with additional funding. He was also clear that we should keep advertising – if we don’t, we certainly won’t find anyone. I don’t anticipate any speedy developments, but within the limits of what he is actually able to do, I felt that he would try and push things along, and will think ‘outside the box’. He is also very approachable, and hopefully will report regularly to us – one of our complaints has been lack of ongoing information.

During the Interregnum we have been, and still are, dependent on retired clergy to take our services. Rev Canon John Fellows has recovered well from his heart operation and we are delighted to have his help again. Rev Martin Upton has now officially ‘retired’ from our list through ill health. We are very grateful to him and all the other retired clergy who continue to help and support the Group – we could not manage without them. Whilst Rev Leslie Hobbs is still organizing the service rota for the whole Somerleyton group, he is trying to step back from active duty as far as possible, only acting as ‘back-up’ when there is nobody else.

The most significant event this year has been the refurbishment and re-glazing of the windows in the nave, porch and vestry, and the Henry Holiday stained glass on the south side of the chancel. Particular problems with the latter meant the costs were about £10,000 more than originally estimated. It was disappointing that the Diocese would not allow Memorial quarries other than the two for former churchwardens. The completed quarries are so unobtrusive that the decision defies all logic and caused not a little ill feeling in the village – terrible PR! However, the overall result is stunning and a great improvement. Moreover, the windows are now weatherproof, and hopefully should not need any further attention for many years. I would like to undertake the refurbishment of the remaining stained glass window in the chancel, plus the two plain windows either side of the altar. These are in a less dire state but they are not good, and ought to be done.

The Faculty for the restoration of St. Christopher and the armorial shields on the south doors remains in limbo. The matter is still in the hands of Historic England; we await their instructions as to what they want us to do – the mural could well fall off the wall before we hear from them! I keep chasing the Faculty office, but they in turn can only chase HE. The CBC gave us a small grant towards the cost of the second report on the mural, and suggested we apply for a main grant when we are ready to start work; the grants are only considered annually – next deadline date January 2025! Given the rate of progress this my not be far out….the Faculty office heard from HE on Saturday13/4 to say they are content with the report and will confirm this in writing. Eliza at the Faculty office will contact us and explain the next steps.

We are due a Quinquennial Inspection this year; given all the work we have done, it is to be hoped that the architect won’t find anything much for us to do.

‘Housekeeping’ this year included a professional floor wash after the dust and mess left by the work to the windows, and a rabbit cull in the churchyard; it is three years since the last one.This doesn’t get rid of the rabbits completely but keep the numbers down on a regular basis – necessary as the rabbits do so much damage, both to the ground generally and to graves in particular. New rose bushes have been planted in the War Memorial garden and lavender plants will be added round the edges as soon as the weather is suitable.

There have been several visits by various groups during the year – U3A, two organ clubs and the bells recorder. Articles on these, with photos, have been put on the website as items of interest.

We have managed a number of social and fund-raising events. The Lent Lunch in March was held jointly with Blundeston and the Annual Ride & Stride took place at the beginning of September – thanks to our cyclists. The Harvest Evensong was well-attended; lots of people from the church and the village helped decorate. Very many thanks to them, and as ever, to our local farmers who once again supplied us with a magnificent array of fresh produce. As in previous years, this was distributed to local nursing and care homes, which are always most grateful.

In 2022 ‘Tea & Tinsel’ was so successful that in November we held ‘Tea & Tinsel II’, which went very well. Huge thanks to our fund-raising committee and to all those who worked so hard to supply cakes, and to run the raffle and other stalls. We will probably try and make this an annual event, as well as other ventures which are already in the pipeline for the 2024 Patronal Festival and beyond.

Perhaps the highlight of the year for me was our (experimental) candlelit Advent Service with the Advent Prose. This was very well received, and with a bit of fine tuning, we shall aim to repeat it this year, possibly at a slightly earlier time to encourage people to turn out, but still dark enough to create the right atmosphere.

Bishop Norman retired at Easter; we wish him well, and have been very grateful for his support and encouragement over the years. Bishop Ian is booked to take the Rogation service at Ashby, so everyone will have a chance to meet him. He said he would love to come and take a service at Lound, even though he is not of our persuasion – I feel he will be a Bishop for everyone.

We have also said goodbye this year to some dear friends and stalwart supporters, John English, Ben Nelson, our onetime server, Jane McCormick, and Mary Critoph – we shall miss them all. During the year several of our number have been, and some still are, unwell. We give thanks for those who have recovered well, and continue to pray for those who are still struggling; we miss them at our services and other gatherings.

As ever, I am enormously grateful to the helpers who undertake reading, intercessions, fund-raising, flower-arranging, catering, cleaning, gardening etc. We are also grateful to various people from the village who are always willing to support and help when asked.

We remain hopeful and pray that this year will bring significant progress in resolving the present situation. We are very keen to raise the profile of our Anglo-Catholic worship, and to re-vitalise the life of our church.

JH – 24.04.2024


Once again we have paid the Parish Share in full, while still retaining our minimum fund of £10,000 as agreed by the PCC. This is a magnificent effort. Donations for engraved Memorial quarries in the new windows helped a lot, though not as much as I had anticipated as the Diocese refused to allow more than two. Our unrestricted funds in hand have slightly increased, helped also by online donations through the Parish Giving Scheme and ‘Give-a-Little’. I would like to encourage more of these, both amongst members of our congregation and outside..

Despite the expense of the window refurbishment, we have not reduced our restricted capital below £100,000 in line with PCC policy.

We stll need to increase regular and more substantial giving all round, and we hope additional services will help this. We shall miss our financial supporters who have died, and will need to keep up the fund-raising events on a regular basis.

The Faculty application for the conservation and repainting of the St. Christopher mural and the armorial shields on the south doors is still awaited. We have not had any input from Historic England for a very long time. I have asked the Diocese to put pressure on HE. It has been suggested that we apply for a grant to (among others) the Churches Building Council; their next round of grants will be decided in January 2025. I have no idea if we will be ready enough by then, with estimates etc., to submit an application, nor at this stage is there any indication of cost. Since HE are now calling the tune, it is likely to be considerably more than originally estimated. We need to bear this in mind if and when we have to draw further on capital for other things.

Amongst those I would like to try and complete refurbishment of the remaining chancel windows – my rough guess, based on the work done so far is probably around £40,000. We need to discuss what to do about this and perhaps put together a special fund-raising drive specifically for this work.

We need to make sure we don’t waste heat and light, like any household, and need to be careful with running costs. Heating the church for a service wipes out the amount of any collection, so we are fortunate in that these costs come from Chris’ money. However, funds are not unlimited; for instance consider whether you really need heating on if you are cleaning – if you are working you might keep yourself warm!

The Remembrance Sunday collection of £70 was forwarded to the Royal British Legion as usual, for which they were as ever, very grateful. We again supported the Annual Ride and Stride, from which we also benefit. ‘Tea & Tinsel II’ was very successful and we should perhaps consider making this an annual event.

We will revisit the matter of our church charities when future arrangements are clearer and a regular pattern of more frequent services is restored.

Judith Hobbs (Acting Treasurer) 24.04.2024


This year we have lost two Members through death – Jane Mc Cormick and Mary Critoph. However, Jenny Poole has joined the Roll, having resigned from Ashby, so the Roll this year the number is 23


It has been a busy year for the Village Hall. There have been several clubs that have used the hall successfully. The Art Group and Craft Group have met alternate Mondays throughout the year and have proved pretty popular with a large number of participants. The Quilting and the Patchwork clubs have met on Wednesday afternoons and evenings and brings in a wide circle of participants all thoroughly engaged in their creations. There has been dancing and it is a real delight to see the hall used in this way. The Warm Welcome Project ended last season successfully by celebrating the Coronation by streaming the event live in the Hall along with a “Shared Lunch” and has maintained its popularity this season. Also we “Rang for the King” which has developed into a regular Band of Ringers who practice weekly. The new season opened at the end of October and rapidly acquired the numbers that we saw last year. We would like to thank East Suffolk Council for their continued support financially and more importantly the goodly numbers of volunteers who have made this happen.

The Hall fabric has improved where the entrance door has been replaced as well as the rear fire doors. This has resulted in making the hall far more draft proof however the Energy Bills, like all users, have rocketed and so we have had to increase the hire charge to cover this. We are, as a committee, trying to look at grant aid to find ways of obtaining cheaper energy and so bring the cost of hiring down again. We also received other grants from East Suffolk Council, to replace the battery in the de-fibrillator that we acquired a few years ago from the proceeds of a fete and another to create a Village Archive. The latter is to house the residual material from Lothingland Middle School along with larger amount of material donated by Rita Flatt and Frankie Sayer. There is also a photocopier/ scanner so users can copy items as well as make copies to donate.

The committee has changed this year in order to focus our attention on securing a grant to enable us to purchase Solar Panels which should making running the Hall much cheaper. We welcomed a new treasurer, Stuart Day and would like to thank Garry and Linda for their service to keep the Hall running. We would also like to thank our internal and external contractors, Eileen and Jonathan, for making the Hall look clean and welcoming.

Miles Thomas – March 2024

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