The History of the Friends of Long Compton Church
The Friends was established after a number of public-spirited Long Compton villagers came together to promote the idea. They could see that maintenance and repair of our historic Church and iconic lychgate were under-funded and that the church building was under-used. They suspected that many churchgoers and non-churchgoers would share this view.
The leading light of this movement was local resident, John Brown: together with like-minded friends, they designed a questionnaire and, over a period of three months, visited one fifth of all the households in the village to validate their view. They concluded, from their straw poll of this cross-section, that there was a generous well of support for an independent friends organisation which could raise funds and promote the wider use of the Church for the benefit of the community.
From the start, the promoters were keen that the new organisation should attract a large membership representative of all Long Compton residents and offer a range of activities of wide appeal. A Constitution was drawn up enshrining as its objectives: the promotion of the maintenance and repair of the Church; the promotion of the wider use of the Church; and, education in the history and heritage of the Church - all for the benefit of the community as a whole. This was accepted by The Charity Commission and the Friends were recognised as a Registered Charity.
An open meeting to launch The Friends was held in May 2011 and views were canvassed on membership and future activities. Skillsets for the volunteers needed to manage and administer the charity were identified, including IT skills, publicity, facilities management, catering, legal and accountancy. A Committee was appointed, chaired by John Brown, membership of which is a good mix of different ages and interests across the village. As John says, success is built on teamwork.
The activities organised by The Friends in the Church have included classical and jazz concerts; songs and popular readings; and talks given by speakers ranging from Jane Hawking, through David Nobbs (creator of Reggie Perrin) to a talk on tombstones by Oxford academics. A number of off-site fund raising events have also been organised including a Glyndebourne style picnic and musical evening at Ditchley Park and a wine bluff evening.
The success of The Friends can also be measured in terms of a membership which has grown to upwards of 300; and, in money terms, in its first seven years, the Friends raised £49,000 for the improvement and repair of the Church.