This is the web page for Friends of St Michael’s a group dedicated to supporting, and making the most of, the historic church building and churchyard of St Michael and All Angels, Awliscombe.

Come to our Family Open Day at St Michael’s on Sunday 10th July 2-5pm (see Flyer below)

1. Who we are and what we do?

The cost of maintaining our ancient Grade 1 building has historically been covered by the donations of the congregation but as the numbers have declined so church receipts have fallen too.

The Church of England does not have the financial resources to maintain England’s huge stock of  historic churches. That has always fallen to the local community, aided by others who love and use their church and churchyard.

Anyone can join the Friends. It has no religious purpose. Together we will provide regular financial support to maintain and enhance the building and its churchyard as an asset for the whole community, so future generations can continue to enjoy memorable family gatherings, school plays, community get-togethers and other events such as exhibitions and live music, as well as services.

Who are The Friends?

The Friends is constituted as a sub-committee of the Awliscombe Parochial Church Council (PCC), the elected body that has legal responsibility for managing St Michael and All Angels church. The PCC has charitable status and, as a sub-committee, so does the Friends.

How do the Friends raise money?

Every member of the Friends pays a subscription (per household) of at least £2 per month or £24 per year – or more if and when you feel able to. Or become a Life Member for a single payment of £250 or more.

If you are a UK taxpayer, we can, under the Gift Aid scheme, reclaim the tax you have paid on your subscription, increasing its value by 25 per cent at no cost to you.

See Joining the Friends, below to become a member and support St Michael’s, or come to the Open Day on 10 July, 2 – 5pm.

We may organise fund-raising events for special projects, but we believe that, with a regular and predictable subscription income, the Friends will be able to fund the ongoing maintenance that the church building needs.

How will my subscription be used?

The Friends’ has its own bank account and the constitution ensures that its money can only be spent on maintaining and enhancing St Michael’s  church building and churchyard – not for religious purposes or to support the wider Church of England.

The priority for work to be financed by the Friends is repairing and restoring those parts of the church building which are in urgent need. In many cases some grant funding is available, but demand for grants exceeds supply and grant funders look for evidence that we have raised money locally. Urgent projects include (as at July 2022):

  • Topping up the funds allocated and raised to rebuild the leaning churchyard wall (total cost £32,000; £27,700 raised to date).
  • Dealing with a leaking roof and inadequate rainwater goods which are causing serious damp in the wall behind the organ (total cost £5,000; some grant funding may be available).

We also want to make St Michael’s a better place to hold events by, for example:

  • Installing a toilet
  • Adding basic kitchen facilities (at present there is no running water and no drainage)

In time we hope to be able to tackle projects which make the most of the assets we have, such as:

  • Rehanging and retuning our ancient bells
  • A full internal redecoration to repair the damage done by damp

How is the Friends managed?

While the Friends Committee is a sub-committee of the PCC, we will maintain a clear distinction between the two. The Friends Committee consists of a Chair, Secretary and Treasurer plus at least two other members, elected each year. The Chair’s appointment must be approved by the PCC, but neither the Chair nor the Secretary will be PCC members.

The Committee will decide how the Friends’ money is allocated, agreeing with the PCC where the greatest need lies.

As a Friend you will receive an annual report of the Friends’ activities and help to elect – or even stand for – the Friends Committee at the annual meeting.

2. Joining the Friends

Until a Secretary is elected, please contact the PCC secretary, Sharon Thwaites (01404 548467, nick.sharon.thwaites@mac.com) who will send you an application and subscription form.

3. The Committee

The Friends’ Constitution stipulates that it will be managed by a committee consisting of a Chair, Secretary and Treasurer plus at least two other members, at least one of whom should be a member of the PCC. The Chair must be approved by, but not a member of, the PCC.

The Friends was established, with the approval of the PCC, by a Working Group consisting of some members of the PCC and others with an interest in preserving the church building but no direct connection with the PCC or congregation. The members of the Working Group intend to manage the Friends until a committee is elected by the first General Meeting of the Friends’ membership.

The members of  the Working Group, some of whom are willing to serve on the committee if elected, are: Louise Beeken, Allison Bryant (PCC representative), Julie Hawkins (Treasurer), Sarah Ricketts, Simon Ricketts, Nick Thwaites (PCC representative), Sharon Thwaites (PCC representative), Harriet Willmington, Paul Willmington.

As at the launch date of the Friends on 10 July 2022, we are still looking for potential committee members – in particular someone to take on the role of secretary, who will maintain the membership records, keep minutes of committee and general meetings, manage any correspondence, and may also be a signatory on the Friends’ bank account.

4. Personal Data

Friends of St Michael’s (the “Friends”) keeps a record of certain personal data – name, address and email address – relating to each person who has signed up (including family members named on the application for membership) as a member of the Friends.

We keep this information safe by storing it on a password-protected computer. We will not share it with anyone else save with the consent of the person to whom it relates or for purposes which are directly related to the purposes below: for example, we may use a third party e-mail newsletter service, such as Mailchimp, to process newsletters and may share personal data with the provider of such a service to the extent necessary to enable them to provide that service.

We use such personal data purely for the purpose of communicating with members in relation to the activities of the Friends, for example to send out our Annual Report or to invite members to the Annual General Meeting or other meetings or events.

We will promptly delete from our records the personal data relating to any person who ceases to be aImage member of the Friends.

5. Upcoming Events

Please join us at St Michael’s on Sunday 10 July 2 – 5pm for an Open Day where you can discover more about our historic church, have some fun, and sign up to become a Friend

Village Hall gathering to discuss the Friends

We’ve booked the Village Hall on Thursday 28 July from 7.30pm.

Please come and join an informal discussion if:

You’ve joined the Friends and have ideas about ways in which we could make the most of the church building or churchyard or

you’d like to get more involved by helping out occasionally in the church building or churchyard, or by standing for election to the Committee (we really need a secretary/administrator with the time and inclination for a bit of admin!) or

you haven’t yet joined the Friends but want to find out more and/or sign up as a Friend.

We’ll try to make sure there are drinks and nibbles available.


First Annual General Meeting

We plan to hold the inaugural AGM of Friends of St Michael’s in September or early October: please keep an eye out for updates. If you have already signed up as a friend you will be notified.

6. Constitution

Read the Terms of Reference here

7. Links and useful information

We think this article by Simon Jenkins (journalist, broadcaster and author of England’s Thousand Best ChurchesEurope’s 100 Best Cathedrals etc.) makes a lot of good sense (though we don’t agree that the religion will have to go!): https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/22/churches-survive-church-of-england-religion-buildings

The PCC has started on a programme to enhance the wildlife value of the churchyard.  If you’re interested do look at this website, packed with information and ideas about making churchyards havens for biodiversity:https://www.caringforgodsacre.org.uk