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AGM Parish Council Minutes 2023

Here are the minutes from the AGM meeting held Tuesday 20th June. Attached are the accompanying reports.

Durham Martyrs’ Parish Council Annual General Meeting 20 June 2023

Welcome – John thank you for attending this evening.

Apologies received Joe Hughes, Joanna Pallister, Leanne Hesletine

1 Opening prayer

Fr Colm opened the meeting with a prayer.

2 Chairperson’s Report – John Thompson

At the last AGM in 2022 several issues were identified for the forthcoming year. We

considered how as a Parish we could move forward and return to pre Covid activity across

the many groups who make up our community. We have seen a gradual return to Parish life

although the impact of the Covid pandemic has left its legacy. The return of volunteers has

been slow and this has affected the ability to offer the level of support and service we as a

Parish have been proud of delivering in the past. Work is ongoing in encouraging new

volunteers. As a Parish we have a diverse profile with a broad cultural basis, this needs to

be reflected in the ministries we offer. The reintroduction of the international meal has

proved popular and shows a Parish which reflects the importance of sharing our cultural

backgrounds and brings about greater inclusivity. The international meal is not the only

example of this, a further example is the choir.

A further challenge is how we can encourage people back into church. Attendance is lower

but this is not unique to the Parish of the Durham Martyrs. It is reflected across the diocese

and nationally. It is not specific to age although physical evidence of those attending

services clearly identifies the absence of younger people including primary and secondary

education. This is an area where much discussion has taken place and is ongoing. There is

a debate as to how as a Parish we can address this issue. It is not only the Parish who bears

sole responsibility in addressing this issue but encouragement and support from parents and

family is important. Education is equally important and the role of Religious Education is

fundamental in helping our young people to understand the relevance of faith in society and

the church. Academisation, in particular the Bishop Wilkinson Trust responsible for the

schools within our Parish community, must ensure the Principles and ethos of Religious

Education remains strong within the school curriculum. The Parish of the Durham Martyrs is

well represented on the Governing committees within the four Schools.

I do not intend to go into detail regarding the Parish finances and will leave that to Tom

Harrison. However, as a Parish we are grateful for the generosity shown by Parishioners

who support and contribute financially to the Parish and its’ upkeep.

The challenge of succession planning continues, the age profile of volunteers is pointing to

the higher end of the scale. The need to encourage volunteers to supplement our various

Parish teams remains an ongoing challenge.

The work of Br John and Br Paul respectively, is well recognised and received across the

City and their support within the Durham Martyrs is appreciated.

Changes in the PPC membership have occurred – we said goodbye to Katie. During her

time working in the Parish, Katie developed a very broad role supporting and working with

many of the groups within the Durham Martyrs. Her involvement with the youth was seen as

an opportunity to reconnect with the ethos of Catholic life. Tom Harrison took on the role of

Financial Director and we welcome his experience in guiding the Parish to more positive

times. After 10 years Margaret has decided to hang up her pen and close her book and is

stepping down from the Parish Council. Margaret has guided the Parish through very

challenging times and she will be missed by all on Council. I understand Margaret is not

disappearing totally but will remain active within the Parish.


Reports Section

A. Financial Report – Tom Harrison provided a written report of the Parish

Finances, he highlighted several areas including energy cost and

maintenance which will impact on the finances of the Parish. Tom informed

the meeting of the introduction of a debit/credit card reader as a supplement

to the planned giving and loose plate collections. It is not a replacement as

the greatest percentage of offering are via standing order which benefits the

Parish through tax reclaim.

B. Health and Safety and Buildings Committee Report – Mary Harrison

provided a written report regarding health and safety issues, building and

grounds maintenance and ongoing work. There was a short report regarding

St Bede’s Cemetery, Tom Hoban informed the meeting of discussions which

are taking place with Dream Heritage, a charitable organisation who are

involved in reclaiming and restoring areas of historical and local interest.

C. Reports from Groups in the Parish. All written reports were available to

view on the evening of the AGM.

I. Bereavement Support Group - Margaret Wallace provided a written

update of the Bereavement Support Group, this was supported by a

short verbal report on events and support provided over the past year,

including a return to the Memorial Sunday Mass and memorial

services. Monthly meetings continue.

II. Inclusive Church Group - Graham Donachie provided a written

report for the meeting along with a verbal update of recent

developments regarding the group. The group is expanding and a

request for volunteers was made. Links have been established in the

community and with local GP practices. Feedback is very positive, and

the Cafe continues to meet on the second Tuesday of the month.

III. Lunch Clubs (Kathleen Murray) Kathleen reported that the lunch club

continues to meet each Wednesday, however, volunteer drivers are still

required to help with transport.

IV. Parish Support Fund (Joe Hughes) A written report was submitted outlining

the status of the fund

V. St Godric’s Steering Group (Joe Hughes) A Written report was submitted

outlining future events including Heritage open days and Lumierre. Report

available along with the minutes of the AGM.

E. Amendments to constitution


No changes had been proposed.

F Announcement of current membership of Parish Council and Committees

Parish Council members

Fr Colm

Standing Committee Chairs

• Finance – Tom Harrison

• Building – Mary Harrison

• Liturgy – Vacant

• Social – Maria Melia

Foundation Members

• Graham Donachie

• Tom Hoban

• Mike McNally

• Vacant

Elected Members

• Emma Turnbull

• Cynthia Dunn

• Joanna Pallister

• John Thompson

• Tony Power

Safeguarding Representative

• Kathleen Murray

Regularly invited Guests

• Leanne Heseltine re website

• Joe Hughes re Parish Support Fund

Vice-Chair - vacant

AGM report Memory Cafe 2023
Download PDF • 153KB

Finance report June 23
Download PDF • 147KB

Download PDF • 120KB

Buildings H&S june23
Download PDF • 91KB


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