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  • Churchwardens’ Fabric Report, 2016
    The following annual maintenance has taken place: the fire extinguishers were checked. The boiler was serviced in March. The boiler worked well until October when the switch box developed a fault. This was replaced and since then the only blip in the heating was when the controller was programmed for additional services and the day changed in the process. It is important that more than one person can alter the timings so that it does not fall to one person’s sole responsibility. We are grateful to Paul Beale for his skills and knowledge which keeps the boiler in working order, he has recommended having the boiler serviced in September rather than March so that it will be reliable throughout the winter.

    An electrical inspection was carried out in January by Quarterman Electrical. The report is filed in the log book. This should be repeated in 2021. Anyone using electrical equipment is asked to visually inspect it and ensure that they do not use anything that has been damaged or that trips the fuse.

    The organ was serviced in May by B. Carlick. We are very fortunate to have Richard Poyser, Graham Warner and Lianne Poyser who can play the organ for us on a Sunday and John Hampton who often plays for funerals. Our thanks to them for accompanying our singing.

    In December, the large alter table was being carried from the vestry to the Nave following a funeral. A leg caught on the step and sheared off. The Alter table is very large and heavy and is made up of wood from a variety of ages. It has evidence of woodworm. The PCC discussed the issues of health and safety to parishioners of manoeuvring the alter table. There are risks to a person’s back and shoulders and possibly legs and feet from moving the alter. A temporary repair has been undertaken to the Alter table and the PCC are looking at a long term solution of replacing it with a smaller oak table which could be used for signing of registers or moved to one side for funerals.

    Jane Morrison has continued to mow the churchyard for us; our thanks to Howard for continuing to request an invoice for mowing for 2015 and 2016 and to South Leigh Parish Council for their contribution of 50% towards mowing costs. Jane schedules her mowing on request so that the church yard looks its best for the increasing number of weddings and special occasions taking place throughout the year. Grass cuttings are being collected by the local council on a fortnightly basis. Our thanks also go to those who regularly tend their relatives’ graves or help with other tasks in and around the church. The congregation have occasionally stayed after the service to clean the church thoroughly, this often occurs before a wedding or funeral.

    The annual inspection and maintenance of the bells was undertaken by Whites of Appleton. The 3rd, 4th and 5th ropes were adjusted. Alison Merryweather-Clarke continues in the role of Tower Captain. Ian Thompson also continues in the role of Steeple Keeper. In June, Steeple captain Ian Thompson checked the clappers for play, stays for cracks or movement and lubricated the bearings. David Smith continued as Tower Correspondent and contact for any bands wishing to visit and ring at South Leigh and the roles of Deputy Tower Captain and Deputy Steeple Keeper. Alison’s hard work training a number of new bell ringers is beginning to pay off and we are delighted to hear the bells ring more regularly. Our thanks go to all those who ring at St. James both regularly and for special events.

    Our buildings project to include the provision of toilet and kitchen facilities in the church, stairs up to an upper room above the vestry for storage is also being considered along with flexible seating in the North Isle has made small progress with the statements of need and significance being completed and submitted to the DAC along with drawings and paperwork for their consideration. In a 2nd phase of the buildings project, the addition of a separate building in the churchyard in the SW corner of the churchyard is being considered. This could be used by Sunday school and other village organisations for meetings or outside college / university / schools or historical societies for educational purposes. This building would also have storage and toilet facilities. This building could be used for events such as Maundy Thursday supper if the village hall is unavailable. It is hoped to move the project forward to obtaining a faculty for the planned work so that a tender document can be created, quotes obtained and we can then begin fundraising. Fundraising will be a huge undertaking and a working group will be needed to apply for grants.

    As we had a grant from English Heritage for the church repairs done as part of the last quinquennial, they require our church to be accessible and used, they send us an annual form to complete to monitor this. The report for 2016 has been completed and returned to English Heritage.

    We are fortunate to be able to have our church open daily for visitors and villagers to enjoy. Visitors continue to purchase postcards and guides and visit our church from many interesting destinations. The churn is emptied daily when the church is locked to minimise any loss from it. We plan to continue to keep the church open for visitors. Our thanks go to those who lock and unlock the church for us every day. The comments in the guest book echo the sentiment that it is lovely to have the church open.

    As a small congregation, we all have a role to play in the organisation and life of the church. The clergy and churchwardens appreciate all those who are on the rotas each Sunday, Kerry who organises the rota, Joy who takes the collection and David who puts away the hymn books and service books. We are grateful to Liz and all the ladies who use their many talents to provide flower arrangements for weddings, funerals, baptisms and services throughout the year. The church wardens and congregation would like to thank Rev. Nick Pike for his dedication to services and the life of St. James.

    There are many jobs to do each Sunday and throughout the year including Deanery Synod representative, Electoral Roll officer, sidesmen, laying communion, village breakfasts, church cleaning, newsletters and updating our web presence. If we are to ever realise our ambition to bring our church up to date then as a congregation we also need to fundraise by making grant applications. If you would like information on any of the roles in the church and are able to help in any way then please do talk to Howard, Karen, Nick or Simon.

    On our pages elsewhere on this website, there is information about the church, church events including fund-raising and pictures. We are interested in developing our churches presence on the web as this could increase visitors, possible friends of St. James and donations for our works. An outline website has been designed for the church by Tim Partridge (St. Mary’s Cogges). This needs debugging and handing over to a church ‘webmaster’ to add information and photos to it before it goes live.

    Howard Chirgwin, Karen Wilson, Churchwardens 2016
  • Tower Captain's Annual Report, 2016
    2016 saw an exciting development in the bell ringing at South Leigh tower. A year ago, St. James’ bells lay silent on Sunday mornings. Members of the band had moved away and the remaining two ringers, David and Anne, were waiting for reinforcements from new recruits before service ringing could resume. In the meantime, Anne rang the beautiful if lonely Sanctus bell to call worshippers to church. However, behind the scenes, a lot of hard work was going into ensuring the continuity of bell ringing at South Leigh, and the result is that our community may now hear the bells ring out again on the second and fourth Sundays of the month for the 9.30am service.

    This splendid change has been brought about by the dedication of Alison and David who, following Anne’s initial recruitment drive for the new band, have worked tirelessly teaching their new recruits: Ian Thompson, Heather Horner and myself. Ian also took on the role of Steeple Keeper and now, due to work and family commitments, concentrates on that. Heather and I have been fortunate indeed to benefit from Alison’s excellent one-to-one teaching and from David’s more than 50 years’ experience and insight. During the year we progressed to ringing in a band, so that we now have practices at South Leigh on two Wednesdays in the month, generously supported at these and on Sunday mornings by experienced bell ringers who join us from neighbouring towers. We also take part in some of their practice nights, particularly at North Leigh, Stonesfield and Eynsham, and have contributed to Sunday morning ringing at North Leigh.

    It has been a revelation to discover that bell ringing is not only about ringing rounds for Sunday services and weddings, but that there is a hidden world of bell ringing activities and challenges which take place every day, of which the average person may be unaware. So, while as recent recruits, we are currently working on Call Changes as an introduction to change ringing, in time we might aspire to please patient, long-term South Leigh listeners with some of the many complex patterns such as Bob Doubles and Grandsire. As we improve our proficiency, we also hope to be able to ring for every Sunday morning service and are actively looking for more ringers from our own community to join us so that South Leigh tower may be self-sufficient in this respect when necessary.

    We are grateful to Nick, Howard and Karen for their support and encouragement throughout the year, during which three quarter peals (~45 minutes of change ringing) have been rung at South Leigh. Two of these were by visiting bell ringers from outside guilds, while one before the Advent Carol Service was rung by members of the Witney and Woodstock branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild: Alison, Anthony, Neil, Mike, Rob and Julie. A peal (~180 minutes of change ringing) was also rung here by the Guild of Devonshire ringers. It will be a while before quarter peals can be accomplished by the new South Leigh ringers, but David’s words often sound in my ears. ‘When it all comes together,’ he told us, ‘it’s the most wonderful feeling, like dancing with a very good partner'. While the new recruits are still trying to avoid stepping on each other’s toes, we are inspired by this vision of harmony, just around the corner.

    Until 23rd April, there is an exhibition at the Weston Library in Broad Street, Oxford which has various items of South Leigh history on show. Among them is a set of brass rubbings of the inscriptions on the 17th and 18th century church bells from St. James’, before they were recast in 1907.

    Evadne Adrian-Vallance, March 2017
  • Steeple Captain's Annual Report, 2016
    In the past year there has been nothing of real note to report up in the tower. David kindly took the tenor rope to Whites for replacement after I removed it and then brought it back so I could reinstall it. I understand it fixed the springy feel to the tenor.

    I have kept up the scheduled maintenance of the bells which really entails lubrication and checking various elements. In addition the bells were professionally inspected and serviced during the year. There are a few stay cracks but nothing major and nothing appearing or growing in my tenure.

    The clock is more problematic. Google has helped me become quite well versed in tower clocks. It does now stop regularly. This is when the resistance of the striking train is too much for the clock train to push and

    trigger a particular mechanism. This is why it stops at 5 to the hour. I think I have found the issue. But I have thought that a few times. The clock could run perfectly with striking disabled. That would seem a shame so I will keep pursuing this and I am going to get some advice from a local clock enthusiast. I am very confident there is nothing expensive wrong. That will come from the hard working modern weight winding system in, I predict, the next few years but not immediately.

    I assume this is well-known, but there is a really clear, classical daisy-wheel style witch mark in the window at the top of the tower which does not have a balcony. (West ?) I have found what I think are others too around the church but this one is unquestionably a classical example and the only daisy-wheel.

    Ian Thompson
  • Bell Ringers' Report 2016
    We bell ringers are usually ardent enthusiasts of change, spending long hours practising and perfecting our bell handling together so that we can strike our bell with perfect rhythm as we change places with each other in patterns of ever increasing complexity.

    However, this year in South Leigh tower, there have been profound changes which seemed quite daunting this time last year. As Les announced his intended relocation to Somerset and Nathaniel’s plans led him away to college, it was clear that your two remaining ringers, David and Ann, would need reinforcements to call the rest of you to worship. While ringers from neighbouring towers can help with ringing for weddings, funerals and teaching, we are precious little use to you on a Sunday morning while ringing in our own towers.

    So, the South Leigh Two sprang into action; David undergirded everything with prayer and Ann went fishing for new ringing candidates, enlisting the help of Jeannie Tognola, and casting the net throughout South Leigh. Ian Thompson, while juggling many commitments, agreed not only to learn to ring, but also to take on the crucial role of Steeple Keeper. It has been a great pleasure to teach Ian with two other recruits, Heather Horner and Evadne Vallance, on Friday lunchtimes. All three of them are astute, dedicated and receptive students, and we have all benefitted from David’s insight and encouragement. Another two recruits, Jane Lewis and Richard Law, have been learning at Ducklington taught by Richard Ford.

    Richard and I are both members of the Association of Ringing Teachers, and use the 'Learning The Ropes' scheme to teach bell handling from scratch in easy steps. Evadne and Heather have earned their 'Learning The Ropes certificate Level 1' for Bell Handling and were elected as members of the Witney and Woodstock branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers. All five of your new ringing recruits have worked hard on their ringing at least once a week, sometimes visiting North Leigh to ring as well, and we are beginning to resurrect ringing practices at South Leigh every other Wednesday, with the support of other ringers from neighbouring towers.

    We are all grateful to Nick, Howard and Karen for their support and encouragement throughout the year which has included several weddings and two funerals to ring for. Before Les left, we rang a quarter peal (about 45 minutes of change ringing) to mark the 70th anniversary of V.E. Day, and a further quarter peal was rung to wish Les well in his new home. Hopefully it won’t be too many months before your new recruits make their debuts on a Sunday morning and the changes will have come full circle, providing your community with the nucleus of a band of ringers to ring out God’s praises near and far.

    Alison Merryweather-Clarke, Acting Tower Captain, March 2016
  • Trustees' Annual Report, 2015
    The Parochial Church Council (PCC) presents its Annual Report for the year ended 31 December 2015.

    Reference and administrative information

    The PCC is an excepted charity and is not registered with the Charity Commission.

    The address of the church is St. James the Great, Church End, South Leigh, Witney, Oxon. The trustees, members of the PCC, at the time of this report, 31st December 2015, were as follows:

    Rev. Simon Kirby, Priest in Charge
    Rev. Nick Pike, Assistant Curate
    Rev. Tony Adams
    Karen Wilson, Churchwarden
    Howard Chirgwin, Churchwarden & Treasurer

    Angela Nightingale, Secretary
    Liz Ashwell
    Mike Peachey
    Helen Peachey
    Louise Taylor
    Lianne Poyser
    Basis of appointment
    Ex officio
    Ex officio
    Ex officio
    Ex officio
    Ex officio

    Elected
    Elected
    Elected
    Elected
    Elected
    Elected
    Structure, governance and management

    Sunday services continue to follow the normal pattern with the support of Rev. Tony Adams, who have been involved in the local communities. The Sunday School continues to flourish under the guidance of Anne Peake and Vicky Steemson. As in previous years a Christmas play was written, produced by Anne resulting in a most enjoyable Christingle Service.
    The bell ringers continue to ring when possible on Sunday morning and for other special occasions. Regrettably a number of the team have moved away. However with the help of the Tower Captain from North Leigh, new ringers are being trained.

    The PCC has been formed under the Parochial Church Council (Powers) Measure 1956.

    PCC members are recruited in a number of ways. The clergy, churchwardens and the treasurer are members by virtue of their office. Deanery Synod representatives are elected by the annual parochial church meeting (APCM) and hold office for three years. Other members of the PCC are elected annually at the APCM.

    There are the following committees:
    • Standing Committee - This committee consists of the Priest in Charge, the two churchwardens and the treasurer. They have power to transact the business of the PCC between PCC meetings, reporting to the full PCC as appropriate.

    Objectives and activities

    The objectives of the PCC are defined by the Parochial Church Council (Powers) Measure 1956 as 'to co-operate with the minister in promoting in the parish the whole mission of the Church, pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical'.

    As a church family and as individuals, St James the Great Church aim to offer worship worthy of the living God. Through worship, prayer and bible study we seek to know God better and to be conformed to His purposes for our lives. In partnership with other Christians in South Leigh and Witney we wish to make His love known within the local community, within our area, nation and throughout the world.

    During the year we hold pastorates, Village Breakfasts and social functions, e.g. Music Festival weekend, Harvest Lunch, Away Day (day for spiritual refreshment away from the church grounds).
    Alpha courses are run in conjunction with our sister church St. Mary's, Cogges, Witney

    Achievements and performance

    The Church is kept open seven days a week in daylight hours.