Annual Review 2020

Stephen Goss, OHCT chair writes…

From the Chair

The year 2019-20 has been remarkable with a higher than ever demand for support from the Trust. The total cost of the work that churches were seeking to undertake was unusually high, with eight projects costed at over £200k as compared with just two in each of the two preceding years. The Trust is indebted to Cynthia Robinson, our Grants Officer and to our Area Representatives who help churches to submit appropriate applications and whose contributions to our decision-making are essential.

In all, the Trust awarded a total of £256,974; comprising £230,500 in grants for general purposes (minor works, restoration, and modernisation of facilities) and, with welcome help from the Allchurches Trust, £26,474 for roof alarms to guard against lead theft, these amounts all being increased over the previous year. Fortunately, our income too increased this year, and I should like to thank all our donors.

As well as many individuals, a number of charitable trusts made donations including the Doris Field Charitable Trust, St Michael and All Saints Charities, John Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust, J A Pye Settlement, Schuster Charitable Trust, and the Adrian Swire Charitable Trust. In addition, the Allchurches Trust has set up a special fund with us which has covered over half the cost of our roof alarm grants this year. Given the level of applications this year, the Trustees made some call on our reserves. This has emphasized the need for us to maximise our income and to keep costs to a minimum. To that end, we continue to rely heavily on volunteers and have no paid staff. A list of this year’s grants follows this article.

Another much valued source of income is donations through legacies. Do please consider remembering the Trust in your will if you have not already done so. We are indebted to Freeths, our solicitors, who are sponsors of our legacy campaign. Unless you say otherwise, legacies are held in our Heritage Fund and contribute investment income for use on grants. Whilst every donation matters, one extremely generous legacy must be mentioned here: we are to receive approximately £2m in the 2020-2021 year from the estate of the late Dr.David Booth. He had long been a regular and generous supporter of our work. Words cannot adequately express our gratitude, and we shall look for a lasting way of remembering him.

I am very glad to say that revenue from Ride & Stride bounced back this year to £112,234 (£99,013 in 2018-19). Of this revenue, £47,519 was passed directly to churches nominated by participants – this over and above our programme of grants. All those who took part in Ride and Stride and their sponsors deserve our very special thanks as does our coordinator, Hilary CakebreadHall, who was tireless in finding new ways to promote the event. A new and efficient provider for online giving also made a difference, as did the excellent weather on the day! Jeanette Thomas stood down as Administrator at the end of March, and Hilary CakebreadHall has rightly written a grateful acknowledgment in ‘Ride & Stride’ below.

We had a successful and most enjoyable year of events (see pages 8-11), the last of which –  at Abingdon Baptist Church –  just ‘got under the wire’ before the pandemic.

Sadly, this is the last year in which Bishop Colin will be our President as he will be retiring in the Autumn. He has given the Trust tremendous support over the years, and we offer him our sincere thanks and our very best wishes for the future.

This year saw Robin Harland stand down from our Development Committee after many years sterling work. We are especially indebted to him for his energetic work both during and after the Jubilee Appeal which gave birth to our Heritage Fund. Finally, our special thanks go to Gillian Argyle and Jonathan Scheele whose term as Trustees came to an end in February 2020: I am delighted to say that they are continuing to help the Trust by moving to positions on Council. In May 2020, we welcomed two new Trustees, Dr Nicola Coldstream, an expert on medieval buildings, and Stephen Slack, until recently Chief Legal Advisor to the Archbishops’ Council and General Synod.

Stephen Goss