Some twenty Friends from as far afield as London, Bournemouth and Bath gathered in Edington for the 2020 Friends’ Annual General Meeting.
But, thanks to Covid-19, the occasion was somewhat different this year. The Priory church was deserted on what is normally the busy final Saturday of Festival week, and this year’s deliberations were held in the open air to avoid the necessity of masks. The meeting was blessed with early autumn sunshine and, if the temperature was a little chilly, the welcome was as warm as ever.
Following the usual preliminaries, the Treasurer outlined the key points of the Friends’ finances. The Friends had honoured all last year’s commitments, including grants for electrical work, churchyard maintenance and altar frontal repair. He concluded by assuring us that the Friends are well placed to support the repair and maintenance of this beautiful Priory church for the benefit of generations to come.
Next, the churchwarden delivered her report. The first half of the year had very much followed its usual pattern, with Harvest and Christmas festivities leading on to the beginning of Lent. Then the world changed as the Covid-19 lockdown was imposed on public and private life. Churches closed and worship moved online, but the work of repair and maintenance continued, encompassing everything from altar linens and tree surgery to a major refurbishment of the bells. Looking forward, the Quinquennial inspection falls due in 2021, bringing the prospect of challenges yet unknown…
Moving on, the meeting considered and approved grants for the coming year. These included funding for a new alarm system and other measures to protect our lead roofs; the recent work on the bells; installation of broadband in the church; and a possible new security scheme for the car park and entrance area.
Finally, Friends heard a brief update on the website, as well as a review of the effort involved in mounting the Festival Online, which remains available on the Festival website. Besides maintaining the links with Edington in this most unusual of years, the online event aims to raise funds for both the Priory church and the Cathedral Choirs Emergency Fund.
After the meeting closed, the Covid-19 rules sadly prevented us gathering for our usual chat over tea and cake!