Friends of St Mary Magdalene - Events Archive 2004-2010

Mid-Year Report - posted 14 June 2010

The Committee has made a policy decision to have rather fewer events each year, and to make up for the shortfall in income by combining forces with the Reading Room Committee and creating the Helmdon 200 Club. I am very pleased to report that all 200 memberships have been sold, and so after paying out prize money, the scheme will raise over £1200 for each organisation in the first year of its operation.

I am very grateful to Vanessa Vicars who again co-ordinated the programme for the annual Words and Music event, held on 17th December in the Church. Despite the freezing weather, there was a good attendance and all enjoyed the music. Moreover about £400 was raised , an excellent result given the conditions (it was difficult even to walk up Church Street).

Forthcoming events planned for 2011 include the Brackley Male Voice Choir (June 17th), and 'A La Carte' Gilbert & Sullivan music) on 4th November.

We are now a rather small Committee, and so I should welcome any volunteers to join us.
Hugh Walmsley (Chair of the Friends)

Words & Music- posted 23 December 2010

words and music entertainers

(from left to right) David Marshall (guitar),
Buffy Michael (flute) and Joe Adhemar (piano)

Despite the snow and freezing weather, about 70 people enjoyed the annual Words and Music event in the Church on 17 December, and the sum raised for the Friends was nearly £400, an increase on the amount raised a year earlier. Local musicians had a chance to perform in public and others the chance to read a topical or amusing piece. And then everyone joined in the carols, and enjoyed a chat over a glass or two of mulled wine and mince pies.

Thanks to Vanessa Vicars for putting the programme together and to all who contributed to making this a successful occasion.

Hugh Walmsley (Chair of the Friends)

New Fundraising 200 Club - posted 16th October 2010

Helmdon 200 Club

Advance Notice: Brackley Male Voice Choir - posted 8 October 2010

... will visit on Friday, 17 June, 2011. 7.30 pm. in the church. Details later.

Chairman's Report 2010 AHM- posted 21 July 2010

nce 1994. At last year's AGM we reported steady progress in rebuilding our reserves after major expenditure in 2008; this has continued through the second half of 2009 and into 2010, ahead of the next Quinquennial review of the building.

As 2009/10 was a financially difficult time for many people, we decided not to mount a Spring Appeal to the village. However, we were pleased to continue to receive donations from our regular supporters and some others.

During the year we ran several events that were all profitable and most importantly they were enjoyable community entertainments. We are not just about collecting money.
14 June Open garden at Falcutt House £507
18 July Daventry Brass Band £204
14 Nov A La Carte Singers £388
18 Dec Words & Music for Christmas £338
30 Jan Quiz night £115
24 April St George & Shakespeare evening £267
6 June Jazz afternoon at Fountain House £415
Total £2234

These events were very much a team effort by committee members but would not have been possible without our regular helpers, particularly Alex Corrin who has organised our bars splendidly.

At our 2009 AGM no new committee members were forthcoming. Thus we began this year working with a smaller committee than we would have liked. During the year Wiggy Smith had to withdraw because of her many other commitments, but in August we were delighted to welcome Ailsa Williams and then Hugh Walmsley who joined us in March.

Other members continued as follows: Roger Miles (Chair), Vanessa Vicars (Vice-Chair), Niki Phillips (Secretary), Julia O'Brien (Treasurer), Pat McAuliffe, and Jo Ottomar. We have very much appreciated the efforts Will Adams has made to squeeze our meetings and events into his demanding schedule.

At this 2010 AGM four of the committee are stepping down: Vanessa, Niki, Pat and myself. Thus some new members are needed urgently. Also it may not be possible to run so many fund-raising events and so the feasibility of a subscription based "100 Club" should be considered as the main vehicle for keeping the Friends in business.

Roger Miles 12 July 2010

Notice of AGM and Agenda - posted 4 July 2010

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Jazz In The Afternoon With The Porterhouse Jazz Six - posted 17 June 2010

porterhouse jazz six

The Porterhouse Jazz Six

'Jazz in the Afternoon' went with a swing on Sunday 6 June in the delightful setting of Fountain House garden (thank you Philippa!). Wonderful live music by the Porterhouse Jazz Six along with Pimms, strawberries & sandwiches created a convivial atmosphere.

Thanks also to those who helped with the bar, marquees, chair/table moving, music etc. The afternoon made a profit of £415 towards fund raising for church restoration.

Vanessa Vicars (Vice-Chair)

Jazz In The Afternoon With The Porterhouse Jazz Six - posted 16 May 2010

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St George Meets Shakespeare - posted 14 May 2010

Morris dancers

Morris dancers in full swing

Bells of a different kind rang in the church on the evening of 24th April – in the form of bells on the legs of the

Owls Wick Morris group who came to entertain us in our celebration of St George and Shakespeare. A hot supper of 'bangers & mash' and apple pie was followed by a quiz on England set by Ross Vicars and a quiz on Shakespeare set by Sarah Payling. The Morris dancers then performed a Mummers play, along with a variety of Morris dances including some clog dancing.

The evening concluded with several readings from some of the more famous works of Shakespeare. A sum of £266 was raised on the night towards the maintenance of the church building.

Our thanks to all who supported and helped make the evening an enjoyable one!

Vanessa Vicars (Vice Chair)

Raising Funds Since 1994 posted 9 April 2010

This group has been raising funds for the maintenance of our village church since 1994. Every five years architects do a thorough survey and always find work is needed to keep the building structurally sound. So the Friends must keep on raising money to preserve the church building as a community resource.

In 2008 we were able to contribute £12,500 to the costs of some very urgent repairs. During 2009 we ran several events to replenish our funds in preparation for the next round of work. A Spring Appeal for donations was quite successful, despite the economic climate, and in May we shared with our supporters an enjoyable supper evening; it was held in the church with music from "The Shunters", who were as entertaining as ever.

A major success for us was the Open Garden event at Falcutt House in June, Our hosts, Charlotte and Paul Sandilands, had prepared their garden beautifully for the many visitors to enjoy. Paul's impressive drawings and paintings were also on display in his studio. Teas were provided and the profit of over £500 was a terrific result, only possible because of the many helpers beforehand and on the day.

Although bad weather meant a late switch from the garden of Helmdon House into the church, a good audience enjoyed the sounds of the Daventry Brass Band on 18 July, and the evening added £200 to our funds. Then in November The "A La Carte" singers from Northampton presented a superb concert of "Songs from the Shows"; this raised £388. Their programme ranged from Victorian operetta through a century of songs from films and musicals to a clever group rendition of the pop classic Bohemian Rhapsody.

Many people look forward to our annual "Words and Music for Christmas", which for 2009 was on 18 December. Despite a bitterly cold night with dangerous ice underfoot, a splendid medley of local talent and hot mulled wine was enjoyed and £338 was added to our funds. Then we began 2010 with a very entertaining Quiz on 30 January devised and presented by Ross Vicars; a further £115 was raised and the six teams enjoyed a closely fought contest.

Our next planned event is a Jazz concert on Sunday 6 June 2010 in the garden of Fountains House, by kind permission of Phillippa Lloyd.

During 2009 we welcomed Ailsa Williams onto our committee and she has been a great help; but unless more people join in the Friends' efforts will have to be reduced greatly. New committee members are needed to replace those who will be stepping down at the 2010 Annual General Meeting in the summer, in particular the Chair and Vice-Chair!

Roger Miles (Chair of the Friends)

Brains Put To The Test - posted 20 Februry 2010

quiz members

Heads Down

Brains were put to the test on Saturday 30th January at a quiz held in aid of The Friends of the Church.

The ten rounds of questions set by Ross Vicars were both challenging and enjoyable including marathon rounds on British Kings and Queens through the ages and the game Dingbats (it's so obvious when you know the answer!). The odd glass of wine helped to loosen those memory cells!

Thanks to all those who supported this event which raised approx £120.

Words & Music - posted 11th January 2010

Words & Pictures concert

A good audience heard Clare sing

Thank you to all those people who helped to make Christmas 2009 Words & Music a success.

Thank you to the church choir, to Wiggy Smith, Chris Gartside, Linda Adams and Will Adams who contributed readings, to Rene Watts who played her guitar, to David Mason who played the piano, and to Clare Connery who sang.

Wine and mince pies were very welcome on a bitterly cold night, and the excellent sum of £338 was added to funds which have been put towards the repair and maintenance of the church.

Words & Music - posted 27 November 2009

This will held be in the church on Friday 18th December

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Songs From The Shows - posted 25 November 2009

The Singers

Another excellent evening, brought to us by the Friends of Helmdon Church on Saturday 14th November, raised £388 towards the repair and maintenance of the church.

The eight-strong "A La Carte" singing group from Northampton entertained the large audience with a rousing, melodious, sometimes poignant, selection of songs from shows such as Les Miserables and the more modern Blood Brothers. We were also treated to some of their Gilbert & Sullivan repertoire, which has prompted in some of us a desire to go to their next production, ThePirates of Penzance, in January at the Royal Theatre.

The Friends chairman, Roger Miles, thanked the group for an immensely enjoyable evening. Then after a superb encore rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, our Rector, the Rev'd Will Adams, added his appreciation of the music, and thanked the Friends committee and their helpers for arranging the evening.

Everyone went home happily, some singing or humming and others eager to look out their old records of some of the numbers!

Songs From The Shows - posted 19 October 2009

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Advance Notice: Jazz Concert - 18 September 2009

A Jazz concert has been arranged for Sunday June 6th, 2010. Details later.

Brass Band Concert - posted 26 July 2009

Brass Band Concert
A Large Audience For The Concert

A sudden, heavy downpour meant a quick switch into the church for our planned concert on 18th July in the garden of Helmdon House; our generous hosts Emma and Andrew Pitt warmly welcomed a very full kitchen as about 35 people, with instruments and chairs, all took shelter until the rain eased. Then a rapid transfer into the church was achieved, thanks to resilient teamwork and plenty of good humour as wet performers and audience flowed in!

Remarkably the Daventry Brass were all smartly in place at 7.30 and the rousing "633 squadron" began an excellently varied programme of film, TV and show music, including Gershwin, Lloyd Webber and Mozart; an ingenious arrangement of The Beatles' "Ticket to Ride" began with sounds of engine steam escaping and ended with a loud station-master's whistle! Two of the items featured talented soloists and their playing was particularly effective in the intimacy of the church.

Nigel, the Conductor, introduced each piece; after the interval he also drew the raffle and gave an amusing overview of the various instruments. Under Nigel's accomplished leadership the whole band gave us such a brilliant evening that there have already been several requests to book them again!

It is pleasing to report that over £200 was added to our church repair and maintenance fund by this event, but organising it was quite an effort for the Friends Committee which is now rather small. This time we were particularly glad of essential help from Alex Corrin and Gerald Holt but for future events we do need more volunteers.

Roger Miles (Chairman of The Friends)

Falcutt House Open Garden - postged 12 July 2009

Falcutt House Courtyard

Busy Courtyard At Falcutt House

On Sunday 14th June, a lovely summer's day, over 150 people enjoyed walking in the extensive gardens of Falcutt House; many bought plants, some played tennis and it seemed that everyone sampled the splendid cakes and tea in the courtyard. In total the afternoon raised £507.58, which is a very pleasing contribution to our funds for the repair and maintenance of Helmdon Church.

The Friends are most grateful to Charlotte and Paul Sandilands for inviting us to hold this event at their home and for working so hard to prepare their gardens for visitors to appreciate. Also Paul's studio display of his evocative paintings and drawings added greatly to the pleasures on offer.

We could not have run this event without the support the many generous people who helped in various ways. It is wonderful how individuals and groups in Helmdon come together to work to make good things happen.

Roger Miles - Chair of the Friends

Daventry Brass Band Concert - posted 3 July 2009

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Chairman's Report 2008-9 - posted 11 June 2009

At last year's AGM our Treasurer Jean Humphrey stood down and was warmly thanked for her very effective and efficient work. We were delighted that Julia O'Brien agreed to take over this role and we also welcomed Pat McAuliffe to the committee.

Other members continued as follows: Roger Miles (Chair), Vanessa Vicars (Vice-Chair), Niki Phillips (Secretary), Jo Ottomar, and Wiggy Smith. During the year Sandra Wroe and family moved to Rugby; she left the committee with our grateful thanks and best wishes. We have also appreciated the efforts of Will Adams to squeeze our meetings and events into his demanding schedule.

Last year we reported having made a substantial contribution (£12,436) towards the costs of the urgent repairs that were completed at the end of 2007. This depleted our reserves and so over the last 12 months we have been replenishing in readiness for the inevitable list of work that will be called for by the next Architect's inspection in 2010.

As our Treasurer's report will detail, during 2008/09 our net receipts totalled £3881.90 and we aim to do better this year; a target of £5,000 has been set!

Our first 2008/09 event was the very enjoyable return of the Ocho Rios Steel Band on Saturday 7th June. As planned, we gave the "Proms Night" event a rest and replaced it with a Guitar and Lute concert on Saturday 27th September. Thanks to generous sponsorship from Macintyers Estate Agents this high risk event was a financial success as well as a musical spectacular!

Once again our Words and Music for Christmas on Friday 19th December was a happy and successful evening; despite a smaller attendance it raised £287, compared with £300 last year.

On 2 May 2008 we hosted a Supporters' Supper evening, primarily as a 'thankyou' to our supporters, but with further donations received on the night it did make a small profit. A similar result was achieved on Friday 15th May this year, when we again provided good food and drink, followed by lively music from "The Shunters"; the audience participation was a memorable highlight of a splendid evening.

For our Spring 2009 membership appeal we put inserts in the February issue of the Church newsletter, rather than separately leafleting the whole parish. Individual donations are also received from time to time. In particular I must acknowledge that the Helmdon Young Husbands Organisation (HYHO) granted us £200 from the profits of their 2008 Summer Ball.

As our publicity shows we have a busy few weeks ahead with several events that we trust will be well supported. Finally we really would welcome one or two more volunteers to join the committee team that works to organise and deliver these events.

Roger Miles

Falcutt House Open Garden Event/14th June - posted 28th May 2009

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Annual General Meeting - posted 28th May 2009

This is to be held on Tuesday 9th June, 7.30 pm in the church.

If you feel that our church building is an important community resource for Helmdon then do come and discuss informally how we raise funds for its preservation over a glass or two!

To be followed by our 2009 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

[We plan to complete these formalities quickly, and then will return to the refreshments and general discussion]

1. Apologies
2. Minutes of last AGM (held on Monday 2 June 2008)
3. Chairman's report
4. Treasurer's report
5. Election of Officers
6. Any other business

Roger Miles (Chairman)

Entertainment from The Shunters

Supporters' Supper - posted 18 May 2009

The renovations needed for the church are on-going and the Friends of the Church raise valuable money towards the cost.

The tradition of thanking them was upheld again on Friday 15th May when the committee provided a delicious meal in the church for the fifty or so supporters present.

Once again the Shunters entertained and they were in fine spirits, with the audience participating fully in their music.

Roger Miles, chair of the Friends, thanked the committee for all their hard work in the arrangement of the evening and the provision of the supper, the Shunters for providing the entertainment, and in conclusion thanked Friends for once again supporting the various activities over a successful year.


Supporters Supper - posted 27th April 2009

The Friends of St Mary Magdalene invite you to a Supper Evening on Friday 15th May 7.30 p.m. in the Church

Musical entertainment by The Shunters

Tickets £5 to include supper & a welcome glass of Bucks Fizz

Words & Music For Christmas - posted 18 January 2009

Christine Bridger makes her contribution

We were delighted that our Words and Music for Christmas on Friday 19th of December was such an enjoyable evening, even though illness kept some of our regular supporters at home. About £250 was added to our church repair and maintenance fund, but the main aim of the evening was, as always, to have a good time. The varied programme of readings and musical items was appreciated greatly, as was the ample supply of excellent mulled wine, mince pies and sausage rolls. Prizes for lucky numbers on the programmes and the availability of further drinks added to the party spirit.

Visit of The Horsemen of the Apocalypse - posted October 10th 2008

Ben and Jon Salfield

To raise funds for essential repairs to the church, on Saturday 27th September the Friends presented a concert by the "Horsemen of the Apocalypse", who are the Cornish brothers Ben and Jon Salfield with their unique mix of 16th century and modern music.

Ben is one of Europe's leading lutenists; his opening solo set of early Spanish pieces filled the Church with beautiful sounds and delighted the audience. Then his younger brother Jon, an internationally acclaimed flamenco guitarist, thrilled everyone with exciting music that featured his own compositions; he truly amazed with the speed and dexterity of his playing.

During the interval Ben and Jon responded to many questions, generously continuing from the pre-concert workshop that they had given for local players during the afternoon.

Part three was a thrilling set of their own compositions in which the blending of the two instruments created wonderful sounds, often full of emotion and always enthralling. This beautiful and original music will be featured on their forthcoming CD.

This high cost, high-risk event could not have happened without the generous sponsorship of Macintyers Estate Agents, and some donations from Helmdon residents who could not attend. Those who did come had a great experience of musical virtuosity and helped us to achieve a most welcome addition of £500 to the repair fund. Finally a special thank you goes to Wiggy Smith whose brilliant idea it was to bring Ben and Jon to Helmdon.

Report Of AGM - posted September 9th 2008

Our AGM on Monday 2 June was well attended and we were pleased to record that the response to our Spring 2008 appeal amounted to £1,060, some £200 better than last year. Recently we have received some further individual dentations, which are very much appreciated as we continue to rebuild our reserves in readiness for the impending next round of necessary repairs to the church building.

Minutes of the AGM are available and show a few changes in the officers and committee members; in particular Julie O'Brien has taken on the Treasurer office following the resignation of Jean Humphrey who was thanked warmly for her sterling work in this role. We were also delighted to welcome Pat McAuliffe to the committee.

The return of the Ochio Rios Steel Band on 7 June was much appreciated by a good audience and the evening added £500 to our funds. We are planning something different for 2009 but hope that they will be able to return in 2010.

Our next major event is the Guitar and Lute concert on 27 September at 7.30. Early details were posted on the Helmdon website in July and further publicity will follow. We are very pleased that the performers, Ben and John Salfield have agreed to run a workshop for local guitarists from 2.30 to 4.00; this is a rare opportunity to learn from two very accomplished artists.

Roger Miles (Chair of Friends)

Visit Of Ochios Rios Steel Band - posted June 26th 2008

By popular request the Ocho Rios Steel Band visited us again this year on Saturday 7th June. Their concert was to help The Friends of St Mary Magdalene Church to continue their fund-raising for the upkeep and maintenance of the church, and it is very pleasing to report that over £500 was raised.

In excess of sixty people attended and we all had a thoroughly enjoyable evening, with audience reaction giving evidence of how much the music was appreciated. Phil Sutton, the band leader, invited two of the younger members of the audience to try their hand at playing some of the pans. Their efforts were given an enthusiastic response and they appeared to enjoy the experience very much.

Phil and the band members also thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and they said that, to a great extent, this was because the audience here was so very warm and responsive and the refreshments were great too! It seems that they are looking forward to their next invitation.

Annual General Meeting - posted May 15 2008

Monday 2nd June at 7:30pm in the Church


1. Apologies

2. Minutes of last AGM (held on Monday 21st May 2007)

3. Treasurer's report

4. Chairman's report

5. Election of Officers

6. Any other business

NOTE: Anyone with an interest in our work to raise funds for the preservation of the church building will be most welcome to attend, especially if interested in joining in!

Roger Miles (Chairman)

Friends' Supper- posted 6 May 2008

!t was an occasion when The Shunters came to St Mary Magdalene Church and what a splendid evening it was!

On May 2nd the committee of the Friends of St Mary Magdalene held a "thank you" evening to show their appreciation for Friends' support for the activities that have been arranged during the year in aid of the church renovations fund.

They gave the assembled fifty Friends a delicious supper, and after the refreshment came the entertainment. The Shunters, from Weedon Lois and Lois Weedon, gave the audience a rousing half hour of singing and guitar music.

Roger Miles, chair of the Friends, thanked everyone for their help over the year. He also thanked Niki Phillips for arranging the entertainment, and committee members, particularly Julie O'Brien, for providing the excellent supper. It was a "right royal spread"!

Successful Words & Music - January 5th 2008

We were delighted that our Words & Music for Christmas on Friday 21st December was such an enjoyable evening and that our new spotlights were so effective. Plans for our 2008 fund-raising events were taken forward at our January committee meeting and we are working on some new ideas so do watch for announcments as tickets go on sale.

Thanks to the past generosity of many people we were able to contribute £12,436 towards the cost of the recently completed urgent repairs. Now we must replenish our funds for the next phase of the work that was identified by the Quinquennial review. Thus early in 2008 we shall again be leafleting the village to appeal for more support, and any suggestions of offers of help would be most welcome; do please contact me on (01295) 768964

Roger Miles (Chair of the Friends)

Gift to For Church - posted 10th December 2007

Thanks to a most generous individual donation and a gift from the Helmdon Young Husbands' Organisation we have been able to buy two spotlights for lighting performances in the church. These should be in action at the next event which is the annual Words and Music for Christmas on Friday 21st of December.

Words & Music For Christmas - 7th December 2007

This popular annual event will take place in the church at 7.30 pm on Friday December 21st. Tickets can be obtained from Roger Miles or Vanessa Vicars.

Fantastic Result For Fabric Fund- 19th September 2007

On Saturday September 8th over fifty members of the Friends of the Church gathered to watch the Last Night of the Proms on a big screen at Home Farm, by kind permission of Gill and John Watson.

The night was cool, but all thoughts of the weather disappeared when the programme interval arrived. A delicious spread of jacket potatoes and salad followed by mouthwatering desserts, prepared by Niki Phillips and committee members, warmed us up for the rousing Albert Hall choruses to come.

Over £640 was raised by Friends of St Mary Magdalene for church repairs, a marvellous result. Thank you, Gill and John, for your splendid hospitality.

Steel Band Concert - 9th June 2007

The Ocho Rios Steel Band concert in the church on Saturday 9th June provided great entertainment. The range of their repertoire, which included audience requests and virtuoso solos by their brilliant young drummer, surprised many. The Band's leader and conductor Phil Sutton wittily introduced each item and also passed on a good deal of insight into how the drums are made and played. Most of the band members have been together for a long time and their sheer joy in playing together was infectious.

The committee of the Friends of St Mary Magdalene are most grateful to everyone who supported this event and are delighted to report that a profit of £477 was made. This is another step towards the £45,000 that needs to be raised to fund the current programme of essential repairs to the church building.

If you would like to add your support to the work of preserving the church building, which is such a focal point for our village community, then please contact: Roger Miles (Chair) or Jean Humphreys (Treasurer).

Chairman's report for the 2007 AGM - 23rd May 2007

At last year's AGM several committee members retired, including Chris and Lynn Gartside, who as Chair and Treasurer respectively had given great service to the Friends. Everyone present was acutely aware of the consequences of these losses but there was a determined resolve to try to keep the Friends going. The new committee gradually came together, and has worked hard to deliver some good results that I am delighted to be able to report tonight.

Following Chris Gartside's wise advice, we have not attempted to run a large number of fund-raising events. Our first two efforts were the old favourites, Last night of the Proms on 9th September and Words and Music for Christmas on Friday 22nd December. Both evenings proved very popular and profitable; we also learned a few lessons about how to do better another time. Our next event is the Ocho Rios Steel Band concert on Saturday 9th June. We shall be giving the Proms night another go in September but replacing it in 2008 with a concert of guitar and lute music.

Funds have also been raised from two other sources: membership donations and specific donations from individuals and organisations. The figures will be detailed in the Treasurer's report, but I should like to note some general points on these activities

Our 2007 membership appeal in February involved leafleting the whole parish; this time we did not set a subscription but simply asked for donations and provided forms for Direct Debit payments and Gift Aid declarations. The total received (£856) compares well with previous years:
2006 Donations and membership £1,000.00
2005 Donations and membership 427.00
2004 Membership subscriptions 235.00

We received some most generous donations but it must be noted that only about 10% of the households that were leafleted did actually respond.

A Members' Supper in the church on the 3rd of March was a most enjoyable evening. This idea had been considered in recent years and this time it was run more as a 'thank you' to members than as a fundraiser. This event cost our funds very little; some donations were received but also committee members and others contributed most generously to the provision of a superb hot meal. The committee has already resolved that this event should be repeated next year.

Turning to our trustee responsibilities for the use of the funds we raise, it should be noted that the Parochial Church Council (PCC) have been reminded that £5,000 of the loan of £10,000 made in September 2005 and part repaid in June 2006, is still outstanding.

We have in hand a most generous individual donation of £500, which was given for the specific purpose of improving the lighting in the church. A request was made to the Helmdon Young Husbands Organisation (HYHO) for a share of the profits from the Helmdon Summer Ball 2006 to add to the funds available for this project. We have recently received £400 from HYHO and so planning for this work can go ahead.

The Helmdon Carnival is another regular event that brings people into the village and raises funds that are distributed to local good causes. We bid for a contribution to the large sum required for the current programme of church repairs and were delighted to receive a most welcome response of £450 from the Carnival Committee. It is excellent that village organisations can work together so well.

As most of you are well aware the latest Quinquennial report on the church building has identified that substantial works are needed at an estimated cost of about £45,000. We have already been able to assist the PCC by paying some architect's fees (recently £2,578.78).

We shall no doubt soon have to decide on further substantial spends from our funds as the work proceeds. It is important to note that the PCC are vigorously seeking grants from relevant charities and striving to boost their funds by all possible means. The PCC has the dual problem of meeting substantial running costs whilst also seeking to maintain the fabric of the church building; whilst we can sympathise with the former, our function is to assist them with the latter.

In closing I would personally like to thank all the committee members for their varied and substantial contributions; Wiggy Smith and then Niki Phillips have filled the Secretary role and Jean Humphrey has quickly mastered the Treasurer's responsibilities. I must particularly acknowledge Ann Smith who has so many other commitments as Churchwarden that she would like to stand down if we can recruit a new committee member, but Ann has assured us of her continuing help with our events.

Roger Miles.

Friends' AGM - 8th May 2007

The Friends of Helmdon church will be holding their AGM in the church on Monday 21 May at 7.30 p.m.. It is an opportunity to hear about our progress in raising funds for the restoration and repair of the church, also to add to our discussions of the way ahead. One or two new volunteers to join the committee would also be welcome, as would any specific offers of help.

Members' Supper - 7th March 2007

The committee of the Friends of St Mary Magdalene, Helmdon's lovely old church, hosted a members' supper in the church on Saturday 3 March. This was a celebration of the support that new and old members are giving to the Friends in 2007. This year's membership drive is focused on the £45,000 that needs to be raised to fund the current programme of essential repairs to the church building.

With some rearrangement of the pews and chairs, the church was transformed into a fine banqueting hall and the beef casserole prepared by Head Cook Ann Smith was the centrepiece of a splendid spread to which others had generously contributed. There was much good humour and lively conversation, balanced by some sober inspection of the threatening crack in the stonework above the large East window.

If you would like to add your support to the work of preserving the church building, which is such a focal point for our village community, then please contact: Roger Miles (Chair) or Jean Humphrey (Treasurer)

Last Night Of The Proms - 16th September 2006

The BBC's Last Night of the Proms
The BBC's Last Night of the Proms

On Saturday 9th September a fine evening was the backdrop for this hugely enjoyable event, which was again held at Home Farm thanks to the generosity of Gill and John Watson. A record party of 80 people gathered in the candle-lit, flag bedecked courtyard in front of the old farmhouse for an open air, large screen presentation of the traditional music, singing and flag waving. The high quality sound and pictures were thanks to the technical wizardry of Chris Gartside, and a crucial input from wiring consultant, John Brackenboro. During the interval a fish and chips supper was served and a very well supported raffle was drawn with the added excitement of checking numbers by candle and torchlight! Throughout the evening fine wines and other drinks were provided thanks to the sterling efforts of Jean, Tony and Tom Humphrey; Tony's late shipment of extra fine white wine was greatly appreciated and the stalwart beer drinkers did their bit too.

The Friends Committee are most grateful to everyone who supported this event and to all those who helped with the preparations for the evening and clearing up afterwards; several hundred pounds was raised and has been added to the funds needed to maintain the fabric of the Church. Well done everyone.

Roger Miles (Chair of the Friends)

Why not find out more about the Proms in readiness for next year!

Show Your Support For Helmdon's Oldest Building - 17th July 2006

14th Century parish church.
14th Century parish church.

At the Annual General Meeting of the Friends on 4th July a new committee was elected, comprising Roger Miles, Ann Smith, Wiggy Smith, Nikki Phillips, Vanessa Vicars and Liz Woolley. Their first meeting will be on Monday 31st July at Wiggy's.

The new Committee will probably run a limited number of events in the first year so that they can become established. Some of the outgoing committee have offered their help if required, but new faces would be welcomed to bring in fresh ideas.

You certainly don't have to be a churchgoer, because the main aim of the "Friends" is to make sure that the ancient building stays beautiful and well maintained. Remember that the building is available to all of us, to be used for many purposes – quiet contemplation, musical events, meetings or anything similar that you can think of.

If you are willing to help by being co-opted onto the committee, by helping on an ad-hoc basis or in any other way, please contact us.

Thank you, Chris Gartside (ex-chair)

Old Time Music Hall
- 18th March 2006

Bill England and Chris Gartside -
Bill England and Chris Gartside - "Two Helmdon Mashers"
from the top of Church Street.

A full house crammed into the Reading Room on 18th March for the Old Time Music Hall arranged by the Friends. They were obviously looking forward to seeing the village talent, which is normally hidden away. Unfortunately those people couldn't attend, but the second team were on hand and performed admirably. Seriously, a lot of hard work was put in by many people to bring the event together in a relatively short time, and thanks must go to all of them.

It was clearly obvious, as one act flowed seamlessly into another, that many hours of rehearsals had taken place (and had been a complete waste of time.)

After the whole company entered doing the Lambeth Walk, individuals and groups performed a series of songs, monologues and dances. These were interspersed with communal ditties from the early 1900's, with the audience doing most of the work in this part. Some of the performers are shown in the pictures, clearly enjoying themselves. We didn't take photographs of the audience, but judging from the compliments at the end, they all had a good time as well. As can be seen, the understated curtains played a key role in the event.

In the interval sausage and mash with onion gravy was served by the catering team of Caroline King, Sally Phillips and Lynn Gartside - all dressed in appropriate serving maid outfits of the time. The bar was ably set-up and manned by the team from the Bell Inn.

The event raised over £500 for continuing maintenance of the Church building.

The performers were (in alphabetical order),
Will Adams
Ellie Barnes
Natasha Brown
John Coatsworth
Barbara Cox
Sophie Cox
Martin Cox (piano)
Bill England
Peter Fell
Chris Gartside
Kathy Quiney
Jess Quiney
Louise Stothard
Paul Stothard
Vanessa Vicars
Ross Vicars
Liz Woolley
Conrad Woolley (props)

More pictures from Old Time Musical, 18 March 2006

Helmdon Church Resounds To The Sound Of Gospel - 17th September 2005

The church was packed.
The church was packed.

It's doubtful whether Helmdon Church has seen anything like it for a long time, if ever!

On Saturday night (17th September 2005) the enthusiasm and sheer joy of the Wood Green Gospel Choir had everyone in a full church on their feet, clapping and joining in.

The audience hardly needed encouragement from the leader, Colin Vassall, as he guided the singers through their repertoire of traditional and more modern pieces, including songs such as "Oh, Happy Day". An unexpected addition was their version of "Oh, come let us adore him", normally heard at Christmas.

The choir as a whole was beautifully balanced with an amazing range, from soft and gentle harmonies one minute to powerful vocal solos the next, bringing to mind artists such as Al Green, Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston. The group of ten singers included a drummer and a keyboard player, augmented by some of the groups children who could be seen getting into the spirit of things at the back of the choir.

The event was organised by the Friends with the aim of bringing a different form of music into the church. Judging by the reaction, a repeat next year should be equally popular. A significant sum was raised from the event, which will go towards the continuing upkeep of the church. Thanks are due not only to the members of the Wood Green Choir, but also the members of the Friends committee who made food for them on their arrival. Particular thanks are due to Gareth Dean for the loan of his drum kit, Towcester Rock School for the loan of PA equipment and especially Viv Watson who brought the whole event together. Last but not least the members of the audience for their support and enthusiasm.

Helmdon Open Gardens - 26th June 2005

One of the splendid gardens
One of the splendid gardens

Eleven Helmdon gardens throughout the village were opened to the public on Sunday 26th June, raising funds for the Friends of St Mary Magdalene. It was a beautiful afternoon which helped to show off the gardens to their best, as can be seen by the example in the picture. Almost without exception, the owners were very modest about their efforts, but the visitors were very impressed by the quality and range of displays, varying from a vegetable garden to courtyards and mature areas with large trees and shrubs. One owner even confessed to having a pond stocked unintentionally with frogs, but we saw more fish than frogs!

Together with the £3 entry fee, teas and plant sales at Elm Cottage raised the total proceeds for the day to over £360. We want to sincerely thank all the owners who allowed us to include their gardens at West View, Cock-a Bulls, 7 Field Way, 22 Bell Close, 1 Shortlands Close, Saturday House, 26 Station Road, 32 Station Road, White Gates, I Hintons Close and Station House. We appreciate how much work went into the preparations and on the day itself."

The Church Resounds Again To The Sound Of Fiori - 12th June 2005

Fiori Musicali in Concert.

A rapt audience in the church on Friday 10th June were entertained by some beautiful music by Fiori Musicali. We were invited to imagine ourselves at the French court in the 18th century, listening to quartets specially written by Telemann. The programme included pieces which were probably unfamiliar to most of the audience and which featured some fascinating sections, all beautifully played. The performers were Penelope Rapson - Musical Director (harpsichord), Katy Bircher (flute), Andrea Morris (violin) and Ruth Alford (cello). The picture shows Penelope introducing one of the pieces.

The seating was organised in a different way, with the performers in the centre of the church, and Fiori commented that this, in conjunction with the effect of the new heating, produced a wonderful performing space with superb acoustics. Something to remember for future musical events in Helmdon!

Our thanks go to Fiori Musicali for once again bringing wonderful music to Helmdon. Thanks also to the 100 or so people attending and helping to raise funds for the upkeep of the church building.

Mix & Match Concert - 14th March 2005

A very enjoyable "Mix and Match" concert was held in the Church on Friday March 11th, performed by "AnnaBee" - Anna Mackennas and Bee Aczel. The first "Movement" was the transporting of the piano from Bee Aczel's home up to the Church on Friday, using Anna's horse box and John Plunkett's gammy leg. The concert itself was, as the title suggests, an assortment of different items. In the first half short classical items and self written pieces were interposed with "standards" from the 1920s and 1930s. After a supper in the interval, the second half was taken up by a musical quiz comprising a range of film theme tunes, some of which were immediately identifiable and some not, at least to the writer! After a good deal of audience participation, including a little heckling from some quarters, the winner on points was Fiona Mason who took home a bottle of wine for her efforts.

Despite a slightly disappointing attendance, partly due to a clash with the School Disco and Paul and Morag's wedding anniversary, the event raised around £150. Many thanks go to Anna and Bee for their efforts in putting together such a varied and interesting programme.

Three days after the concert, the second movement was played, being the reverse trip of the piano down Church Street!

Vivamus - 14th July 2004

Vivamus performing under the direction of Joseph Nolan, with page turning by David Mason
Vivamus performing under the direction
of Joseph Nolan, with page turning
by David Mason

The Vivamus choral concert held on August 14th was an outstanding success in every way - the singing, the location and the weather were all superb. This was the second time that the London choir had travelled to Helmdon to perform in the garden of David and Fiona Mason - many thanks to them for organising and hosting the event. The Vivamus repertoire included standards by the likes of Cole Porter and Fats Waller, extending to a My Fair Lady medley and also to more traditional songs.

The extended interval was a great opportunity to enjoy a picnic and nearly all the 80 or so people attending took advantage.

The event raised over £450 for the Friends funds, which will be required later in the year when the "Quinquennial" survey of the Church is carried out.

Burglar Bill - 5th June 2004

Burglar Bill examines the swag with Betty
Burglar Bill examines the swag
with Burglar Betty.

There was a spate of burglaries in Helmdon on Saturday 5th June as the Pandora's Box Theatre Company rolled into town with their adaptation of best-selling children's book "Burglar Bill".

He'll Nick and Nab
He'll smash and grab
Watch out,
It's Burglar Bill!

The story follows the fortunes and mis-fortunes of Burglar Bill (Rob Tofield) as he tries to avoid the attentions of wouldbe thieftaker, PC Good (Emily Stoke).

But Burglar Bill has a life changing experience when he nicks a small brown box that had been left outside a house. He takes it home to open it and gets more than he bargained for when he finds a baby inside.

Burglar Betty becomes Mrs Bill and Burglar Bill becomes Bakery Bill!
Burglar Betty becomes Mrs Bill and
Burglar Bill becomes Bakery Bill!

It turns out that the baby belongs to widow Burglar Betty (Emily Stoke) who manages to make an honest man of Bill by convincing him to give up his life of crime and marry her.

Suffolk-based Pandora's Box started touring with the Burglar Bill show in 2003 and have been all over the country. The play is intended to educate children aged 3 to 8 in a fun and entertaining way. The show mainly teaches children that stealing is both illegal and antisocial but also contains messages about good versus bad, and even that cleaning your teeth is fun! Many interactive songs helped get the message across to the large audience of Helmdon children - all of all ages.