HISTORY OF THE FRIENDS OF ALL SAINTS
We started out in 2011 with a Tea Party, the same date that Prince William married Catherine Middleton. Fun and games were the order of the day and more than 300 villagers joined us. We followed this up with a Susan Milan concert and our very first Open Gardens in 2012 where we raised over £3000.
2013 saw our most ambitious event to date with our 3 day celebration of village life. 'Glorious Grayswood' had a Flower Festival in the Church, Art Exhibition in the Club, Cake Stall, Plants, Teas and again we raised over £3,000.
In 2014, we began our very popular Jazz Night events. We are fortunate to have Allen Chubb as our resident jazz connoisseur and he found the 'John Shillito Select Six'. The church was packed and everyone who came along was keen to have another event. They proved so popular that they came back in 2015 and 2016.
We decided to have our Open Gardens every other year because of the effort needed by our fabulous hosts and also because of the increasing competition from other villages. 'Open Gardens' it seems is a 'thing'. The event in 2014 was again a great success. We had over 400 visitors, 10 gardens open, including our historic allotments and our primary school, plus prize draws and a 'snail hunt'. And we again raised around. £3,000.
We weren't so lucky with the weather for our Open Gardens 2016. It was wet and chilly and we could only raise £1700. But the 'John Shillito Select Six' was as popular as before and netted over £1400.
In 2017 we had a change of Jazz Band and featured the FB Pocket Orchestra and raised £773.
2018 saw the return of Open Gardens but unfortunately we clashed with Fathers' Day . Our numbers fell and income went down to £1700. This was despite the introduction of the popular 'Classic Cars' feature and the unique Sculpture Garden. We had a new band for our jazz night - The Eagle Jazz Band -and raised almost £600.
In 2019 we again hosted the Eagle Jazz Band, this time in the Village Hall and raised £1319. We had a cabaret style set up plus a cash bar and this proved popular with our audience. In the summer, we held our first ever Barn Dance and Hog Roast on the village green. We were delighted by the support and enthusiasm from our village community. Although we had a modest profit of £710, we can honestly say that this was our best ever event in terms of the number of smiles per minute and the oohs and aahs for the food! The village barn dance is definitely going to feature in our future programme!
Sadly the COVID -19 pandemic severely curtailed our 2020 programme. We had to cancel our Jazz Night and our Open Gardens. But of course we'll be back! Our 2021 Jazz Night with the Eagle Jazz Band is on Saturday 27th March 2021 in the church; and Grayswood Open Gardens is on Sunday 13th June.
We are very proud of the contribution we have made since we started up in 2011. By the end of 2019 we had given over £47,000 to help fund important church projects. We have given funds to:
A platform in the church to extend the usable space for concerts and other events.
Modernising the Said Chapel, providing toilet and kitchen area
New notice board in the front of the churchyard
Reordering of the Garden of Remembrance
Stripping and polishing the Brass Lectern