By Paul Carter (delivered at Annual Parish Meeting on 18 May)
Claxton PCC with help from friends within the community continue to improve the appearance of the churchyard. The churchyard is an amenity for the village providing an open space on the higher ground that overlooks the village and Yare Valley, as well as being part of the Claxton Circular walk – recently publicised as a recommended walk by the Times (Easter 2016 weekend edition).
We are particularly thankful to the grant provided by Claxton Parish Council (£300) to help the PCC manage the churchyard. This year this grant together with donations from PCC members has been used to continue the process of improving the churchyard’s amenity value by hiring a professional arboriculturist to fell and remove decayed, unsafe trees from the boundary with Church Lane. This included a mature ash tree at the southern entrance to the churchyard which was found to be rotten and unsafe and presented a significant risk of falling across the lane.
There have been various working parties and ad-hoc activities to mow the grass, prune trees and shrubs. This work together with the recent more substantial tree work has improved the visibility of the church and churchyard from Church Lane and has enabled more light to flood those areas where there are good drifts of spring wild flowers and meadow saxifrage – a marker plant for old grassland. We thank all those friends who have contributed to this process and to the financial donations from the Fare on the Yare committee which have helped maintain the fabric of this Grade I listed building and trust that they will be able to enjoy their efforts whether using the church for worship or when walking and enjoying the churchyard.
Claxton PCC has had a good year in managing its affairs and has succeeded in meeting its Parish Share (~£9,000) for which it should be congratulated given the significant challenges a small rural church congregation faces. We have been able to continue our bi-monthly services and services for the major festivals thanks to the efforts of our rector John Shaw and his ministry team. Although our congregation is not large, we have enjoyed good attendance and support for the major festivals and related events.
Our programme of fund-raising events is now well-established and provides a significant contribution to village life and activities. In September 2015 we ran our ‘Flying Festival’ with the theme being the Battle of Britain. To add to the atmosphere the village PA system provided background music of the era together with the sounds of piston engine aircraft. We had good weather and were able to launch the flying machines from the tower following their assessment and judging on design and creative merit. Many thanks to Mike Balmer who undertook the onerous task of being the judge.
We followed up this event with our Harvest Festival and Harvest Supper complete with live music and a quiz whilst supper was enjoyed. There were good numbers at this event which continues to be popular within the village. An evening of Scottish Country Dancing with a professional caller and accordion player was organised by Janice Dix complete with a supper. We ran our Wassail prior to Christmas complete with music, carols and readings together with mulled wine and mince pies etc. This event was associated with our late minister Geoff Saunders who initially had the idea of a Wassail as a way of celebration of our heritage and outreach to the wider community. It was fitting that Robin Godber was able to read a poem that he composed for a previous Wassail which celebrated the efforts that Geoff had made to create, organise and deliver the Claxton Wassail – something that was subsequently referred to at Geoff’s funeral service.
I would like thank all PCC members, Claxton Parish Council, the Fare on the Yare Committee, the Pits Trust and Claxton villagers for their support and generosity in time, talents and resources to help sustain the Church and its environs as an ancient monument within our community which has looked across the village since Saxon times.