The Friends of St. Matthias'
The Friends of St Matthias’ Church
1997 - 2010
The story so far . . . By M. J. Hackeson
In the early 1990’s it was clear that, chiefly due to the rising cost of the Diocesan Share, the church would find it difficult to raise additional finance necessary for future repairs to the buildings. It was therefore agreed, with the backing of the PCC that there should be a ‘Friends of St Matthias’ church. An inaugural meeting was held on the 7thJanuary 1997 and Mr Colin Porter was chosen as its first chairman. A constitution was drawn up and agreed wit h the Charity Commissioners and subsequently the Friends became a registered Charity.
By the charity ‘Deed’ the Friends are run by the elected Trustees with 2 PCC representatives who act as link advisors in a non-voting capacity. Importantly the Friends are independent and quite separate from the PCC and not a sub-committee. The project to be funded is then chosen by the Friends from a ‘Wish List’ compiled by the PCC in consultation with the Church’s Fabric Committee.
By its constitution the aims and objectives of the Friends are:
To raise money, principally to help maintain the buildings, fabric and grounds of St Matthias’ Church and its Church Centre and this is achieved by Membership Subscriptions, Legacies, Grants, Gift Aid Donations and by a variety of
organised events such as Orchestral and Choral Concerts, Recitals, Lunches, Auctions, Sponsored Walks and Summer and Christmas Fairs.
Removed and totally rebuilt the East Window in the chancel 
In 1999 with a grant from the Millennium Commission we were able to floodlight the North Side and the West Window of the church done in memory of Guy Bastard who faithfully served the church as warden for many years.
Later in 2004 - 2005 flood lighting was added to the beautiful East Window and if you have a moment, do take the opportunity to sit in the church during the evening and take in the beauty of the stained glass.
Floodlighting to the West Window & North side of the church 
St Matthias’ has always been fortunate to have good musical traditions and over the years its fine William Hill pipe organ built in 1865 was recognised as one of the finest in this part of Devon.
However the blower had been giving problems for several years with excessive noise and vibration and with fluctuating wind pressures. The next project therefore was to fund its replacement.
To commemorate the Millennium the Friends financed the installation of a new blower and a new humidifier. The new blower ensures that the correct wind pressure is available at all times and the humidifier regulates the humidity throughout the instrument, there by controlling the amount of moisture absorbed by the timbers.
It was also necessary to have the asbestos lining from the blower chamber removed by a specialist company. At the same time a cold water supply, power points and strip lighting were installed into the blower chamber.
Installation of New Blower and Humidifier 
In 2002 it was found by inspection that the clock tower required attention with stonework and pointing showing severe signs of wear and tear.
The tower clock was also checked and found to be in need of some attention. At the same time it was decided to install an electric winding mechanism to the clock, prior to that the verger had to access it by precariously climbing a rather old vertical wooden ladder.
With the new health and safety requirements this was not recommended! The weather cock and the clock face were also re-gilded thus ensuring many more years of service.
During 2006 and as a result of the church’s Quinquennial report, work was recommended to be done on the church windows. Some of which was major involving structural tie bars which were badly corroded.
The Friends undertook to have all the windows expertly checked and whatever work was required scheduled it to be done. This was another major project undertaken and completed in 2007. The windows are now looking at their best.
Restoration of church windows
In 2004 the Friends launched their biggest project to date. The complete restoration of the fine William Hill Pipe Organ with a huge target of £120,000. Some said an impossible amount to raise, but after a slow start and with the determination and the generosity of many people and one family in particular, our target was reached. The contract was signed and the work begun November 2007 and was duly completed in June 2008
The complete instrument was removed from the church by the organ builders, Nicholson's of Malvern and taken to their factory for restoration. The work involved the full cleaning all pipe work and stripping the soundboards, completely removing all the old electric switching, relays and cables and renewing them. The console was stripped of all the old mechanisms and cosmetically enhanced and was fitted out with the latest Digital Switching and ‘Capture’ system. This enables the organist to preset all the stop changes, this is particularly helpful to the organist during recitals. The main organ chamber was cleaned and treated for wood worm. A complete rewiring and renewing all the electrics was carried with new lighting and power supplies added. The layout of the organ chamber was revised moving the large pedal pipes to the east corner allowing the choir organ to be positioned behind the south transept organ case. The pipes in the south case were originally decorative and ‘non speaking’ but were voiced to speak for the first time to form the base notes of the choir open diapason.
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