WELCOME to the website of the Dorset Historic Churches Trust. We are a registered charity which, in partnership with the National Churches Trust, is dedicated to the preservation of Christian churches and chapels of all denominations in the administrative County of Dorset, which are open for public worship. Our Annual Report and Accounts for the year 2019 has been added to the last 3 years' reports on the About Us page under the link Annual Report 2020. We hope that you will enjoy reading it.
Back in the Spring, we decided to modernise all our R+S accounting processes including encouraging participants to use JustGiving, while we would make all the 50% repayments by BACS. Then, COVID-19 put the whole event into doubt. Once we had decided to go ahead, the restrictions on working alongside each other made it very difficult to practise and perfect the new system and update the complex spreadsheets which our book-keeper uses to account for cheques, cash, JustGiving and Gift Aid. We apologise that the whole process has run later than in previous years. The good news is that R+S 2020 in Dorset has been a huge success - topping £110,000 - yes £110,000, including Gift Aid! We are relieved to report that, but for the last one or two, we have paid back all the 50% shares to church accounts - the vast majority by BACS. About a dozen payments have been by cheque and we hope that they will arrive in time to be presented in this FY. Thank you for making R+S such a success and for your patience.
The Dorset Historic Churches Trust was founded by Sir Owen Morshead and Kenneth Smith in 1960. Today they would not recognise the Trust and the legacy they created - its growth, its considerable reputation, the range of financial assistance it gives to our inspiring churches and its resilience and ability to meet challenges head on. What should have been a year of celebration has become a year of challenge - but offering new and exciting horizons as we continue the work to preserve our historic churches for current and future generations to enjoy.
We are now learning to live with Covid-19 and the changes the pandemic has brought to our lifestyle, changes that will be with us for many months to come. As a Trust we are adapting to those changes, mindful of the need to continue our work in preserving and sustaining our beautiful churches across the County of Dorset whilst protecting the health and wellbeing of those who support us in that work - the safety of our communities. We have taken some difficult decisions in cancelling or postponing many of the events our Friends enjoy and examined in detail the implications of holding the Ride and Stride event this year. After much consideration we will be running R+S but in a modified form to enable participants and organisers to remain safe but still enjoy all that the churches and countryside of Dorset have to offer. For regular supporters and those joining us for the first time it will still be a wonderful day out!
There is a view that every risk brings opportunities - and opportunities there are. The opportunity to reach out to our Friends and supporters in different ways, adding further enrichment to the mix of Church Crawls and Lecture Lunches we all enjoy and which will return next year. Opportunities to reduce the costly and time consuming amount of paper we use as we explore the capabilities of digital media, ensuring all the financial resources we have are targeted on our historic churches. Opportunities to strengthen our much envied network of Deanery Area representatives and Parish Organisers, involving them more deeply in the work of the Trust.
As your chairman I am convinced that the crisis in Public Health we are living through has helped us to focus on what is important and to do what is right. To do what is right for our communities, our churches, the people who support us and for the management and direction of the Trust.
2020 has challenged us all. It has also provided us with new insights and opportunities to strengthen the foundation for increasing success in supporting our historic churches in 2021 and beyond.