Annual Report 2018: Chapter 2

During the two weeks leading up to the APCM, we are presenting an overview of the activities of the church throughout 2018 over four chapters. Printouts will be available to view in both churches and please ask in the church office if you need your own copy to take away.

All together now…

The Coffee Shop
Tina Edwards

2018 has brought lots of changes in The Coffee Shop. We have continued to grow the numbers of customers, especially those that come to the organised groups: the Friday coffee group run by Jane Wall and our Tuesday Knit and Natter group run by Alison Wheatley.  Through personal invitation these groups have grown and we hope that this continues whilst advertising our activities in the village.

We have not seen the same increase at other sessions, although our sandwich board has made an improvement to our one off visitors, we have not seen any significant change to numbers of regular customers.  We are uncertain as to the long term effect that Costa Coffee will bring this year, but we believe that we reach a different customer base as evidenced by December takings which were up by a third on the previous December.  Running specific sessions, such as wreath making, boosted sales of gift items as well as food and drink sales.

What we do know for certain is that our customers are spending more with us. A detailed finance breakdown is available via the PCC.  We believe that it is important to support various charity initiatives and recognise that this differentiates us from mainstream High Street coffee shop chains. We can report that our charity support this year has been very successful, including our contribution back to the church.

Winnie’s Schooling
We have made our final gift to DCA (Deserving Children Africa) as part of our 3 year commitment.  The Coffee Shop has been using the tithes of its profits to support Winnie through higher education.  This is now complete so we will be looking out for a new charity to support at the end of 2019. 

Chocolate and Wool
Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice is our largest beneficiary. Through all the handmade items sold, we have been able to donate just under £500 in 2018. This didn’t include our Christmas sales of just over £500 which will be recorded in our accounts for 2019.

Purple Poppies
In the autumn we made purple poppies and raised £111 for the Horse Society who support service animals, including those retired by the police and army.

Lemon Drizzle and Home made Biscuits
Where would we be without homemade lemon drizzle? This added to the money raised for DCA by just over £200. In addition, we have a range of seasonal hand-made biscuits with profits supporting Care International. Many of our regular customers now look for a snack that benefits charity.

Wreath Making Workshops
We ran several very popular workshops leading up to Christmas and this money went to Care International’s programme helping trafficked women.  We sent £328.

Jam & Marmalade
If you buy our jam or marmalade then you have helped raise £158 for the Swan Sanctuary.  

Our charity support is very important as is supporting local young entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs
We are still enjoying Bellaroo Bakes. Started by a local entrepreneur Beth, Bellaroo Bakes make special occasion cakes.  Beth has created a small range of cakes & bakes especially for us. These are a delicious and popular addition to our range.

Our newest entrepreneur is BBBows – started and run by one of the “Ballet Mums” she creates handcrafted bows, including those in the colours of Stoke Poges School.

Environment
Having sourced fair trade, healthy snacks, as some clients had requested we then failed to sell many – customers can be a little fickle we have found! We have, however, replaced our paper non-recyclable cups for compostable cups and lids – one small step at a time.  We’d like to source carton juices that don’t have plastic straws so if anyone can help we’d be delighted to investigate.

Volunteers
We have been able to continue offering the coffee shop to those in 7UP working through their community service section for their DofE award and also to another young person from the village. Giving young people this opportunity to develop responsibility is something we consider important. 

We are delighted that we can now open every morning at 9.00, coinciding with a new hirer on Thursdays, Tumble Tots. Some of the mums have been seen in The Coffee Shop, something we hope will grow as they socialise together after or before the sessions.

This year we have said farewell to two volunteers, Ginny Prashad and Margaret Wicks, both were part of the original team recruited by Liz Harvey in 2006 when the Coffee Shop opened.  Another volunteer, Simone Evard will be leaving us in July. We are very grateful for all the time they have given The Coffee Shop and we will miss them. 

Recruiting new volunteer baristas is proving very hard.  Many of the current team have taken on more shifts and those who help out from time to time have also put in more hours this year.  We recognise that this part of the UK is an expensive place to live and therefore nearly all those under retirement age work, while those who have retired are often called upon for child care or caring for others.  Taking that into account, could we ask you to reconsider coming to join the team in 2019?  Each session is 3 hours and we are not open in school time. Perhaps you could team up with a friend and each offer a session on alternate weeks. Please talk to us if you are able to spend some time helping to keep this valuable resource open.

Lastly, can I thank everyone who has worked in The Coffee Shop in 2018.  Those who give up their Saturday morning or work late in the dark mid-week.  You have clocked up nearly 1300 hours of volunteering.  This is brilliant and we couldn’t keep the lights on or the coffee pot brewing without you!

Our Opening Times

Tuesday & Wednesday              9am – 12.00pm and 2.30pm – 5pm
Thursdays & Fridays                 9am – 12.00pm and 3.00pm – 6pm late night
Saturdays                                     9am  – 12.00
Monday and Sunday                 Closed

Knit and Natter
Alison Wheatley

We have had a great increase in numbers of people attending Knit and Natter in the last year.

Knitted and crocheted projects included poppies, (purple and red), Nativity sets, chocolate crange cosies, bobble hats, tea cosies, key rings, Christmas decorations, cardigans and button pictures. We also dabbled in paper craft.

Most of what we made was either raffled or sold to raise over a thousand pounds for Charities including DCA, Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice, World Vision and the Poppy Appeal (including Animals) and of course, the coffee shop part of the church income.

We had lots of fun all year!

Stoke Poges Men’s Group
Nigel Lowe

Our Group enjoyed another good year with all our events being well attended. As usual we were delighted to welcome men from a number different churches a well as many guys with little or no church affiliation.

There have been some changes in the committee who help run the group.

Lewis Fry, the minister from Stoke Poges Free Church, was for many years an active and valued member the team. Lewis has moved back to the West Country. He is much missed and we wish him and his family well. Fortunately, Brian Jeans, an elder in the Free Church has now joined us, as has Jamie Brady who is married to Natasha, our vicar. It’s good to have them both on board.

For many years along with some 2,000 other men’s groups, we have been partnered with an organisation CVM (Christian Vision for Men). Their mission statement is ”To connect men to Jesus and the church to men”. They have developed a lot of resources to help churches reach out to men. They also have compiled a long list of suitable speakers with inspiring stories who are available to talk at our events.

More information is available on the church website: http://www.stokepogeschurch.org/groups/mens-group/ and you can join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/spmg2013

Reapers
Mike Wright

One celebrated report to the Parish AGM, many years ago, was as follows:

”The grass grows and we cut it.”

Luckily, we have managed to keep the grass under control but, as with all gardens, there are always certain areas that need more than mowing. We have the tools but, at this present time, we are struggling to provide the manpower.

We meet at St Giles’ every other Saturday through the growing season from 9am for about two hours and then admire our efforts over tea and doughnuts.

We are unable to cover extra garden maintenance, so we arrange one off working parties to cut back brambles, overgrown shrubs and trees, clear fallen branches, tidy compost bins etc etc. We do need to organise a bonfire to get rid of wood that has accumulated throughout the Churchyard.

Frequent visitors to St Giles’ will have noticed that the Standard roses have suffered from the exceptionally dry Summer last year; it is a major disappointment as many of these have been sponsored in memory of loved ones. The subsoil at St Giles’ is very gravelly and compacted and we have tried every gardening dodge in the book to try and get these roses to thrive. We have not given up yet and many generous families have offered to replace their donated rose. As you can imagine, planting numbers of roses is quite an undertaking, but hopefully with help and some typically English summers we can eventually achieve a rose lined path as it was some years ago.

We in Stoke Poges are fortunate to have a famous Churchyard and it is the aim of the Reapers to maintain it for the next generations. The Reapers are in no way grim – we are a really great bunch – you are more than welcome to join us.

Bell Ringers
Anne Frank
Tower Captain

We currently have ten members in the society. We lost our longest-serving member, Beryl, who passed away in June. We practise on Wednesday evenings, usually with the help of John Davidge, an expert from Chalfont St Giles.

We can just about cover Evensong ringing, but have needed to bring in ringers from outside for weddings. We were pleased to ring for some of the Christmas services and other special Sunday morning services, as well as the commemorations of the end of WW1.

Our main aim is to keep going and improving! Teaching beginners is a time-consuming activity, and can set back the progress of the band. However, Ralph and I organised sessions over the October half term holiday for two promising beginners. We are hoping to welcome them back soon.

We suspended ringing for a few weeks after being plunged into darkness for the second time, but now that the electricity supply to the tower has been sorted out, it is business as usual.

The next instalment of our Annual Report will follow in a few days. Watch this space…