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On Thursday the anniversary of the Friendly Benefit Society was celebrated amid considerable rejoicing, the weather, notwithstanding the exceedingly threatening character of the elements at one period during the early part of the forenoon, turning out fine for the occasion. The day's proceedings commenced by the usual assembly at the club house, the Trevor Arms Inn, when the preliminary business was conducted. The principal part of this consisted of the 'share out'. And this year the members received a dividend of 9s as compared with last year. The club numbers 155 members, being an increase of five on the year; twelve new members, however, had joined since the last anniversary, and there had been four deaths. The total receipts during the year were £259 5s 5d, the sum including a balance in hand in 1876 of £30 0s 5d; the entrance money of the new members, monthly payments, £189 4s; and the subscriptions of 13 honorary members, £13 2s. The expenditure was again heavy: 36 members received the benefit of the sick fund to the amount of £94 11s and, as above stated, there were four deaths, in respect to which £20 was paid out. After the discharge of all liabilities there remained a balance in hand of £1 6s 1d. The amount of the reserve fund in the Savings Bank is £170 13s 1d. On comparing the present with the previous balance sheet we find that there is no material difference in the state of the society's finances from those of 1876. The total receipts were then£237 8s 5d, and the sick pay amounted to £90 1s 6d, 23 members having claimed on the funds. The reserve fund has decreased since the date of the previous annual statement to the extent of £1 11s 10d. The business of the morning having been settled, the members, headed by a brass band from Brighton, attended Divine service, two small and appropriately inscribed banners being borne in the procession. An excellent sermon was preached by the Rev Mr Petley, who has for some time been in charge of the parish. It may not be out of place to state that a new minister has been appointed to succeed to the late beloved and esteemed vicar. At two o'clock a capital dinner, provided in excellent style by Mr Gregory, was partaken of. The chair was taken by Mr H P Hart, of Beddingham, who was supported by Mr T Colgate, Mr G Newington, Mr Ellis, Mr W Medhurst (Ranscombe), Mr G Hother (surgeon to the Club), Mr Charles Weller (treasurer), Mr Amos Weller (secretary), Mr McLeod, and Mr J Stevens (Lewes). The Right Hon the Speaker was obliged to leave for Westminster in the morning, in order to resume his Parliamentary duties at the re-assembling of the House of Commons in the afternoon after the late adjournment. The repast having been enjoyed 'The health of her Majesty' was drunk with due honours, after which the Chairman said he wished to take the earliest opportunity of alluding to the great loss the club had sustained in the death of the Rev W de St Croix, than whom it was impossible for anyone to manage the affairs of the society better, and they had now been deprived of the services of the late reverend gentleman's family altogether, they having left the parish. The Club, however, had received valuable assistance from the Rev Mr Petley, to whose health he called upon the company to heartily drink for the excellent sermon he had delivered to them that morning. Again rising, the Chairman remarked that, notwithstanding the heavy amount of sickness in the society during the last twelve months, he found, on looking over the statement of accounts, there was not much difference, as the members had found in their share-out, in the balance sheet of the present as compared with the previous year. He begged leave to propose 'The health of the Secretary, Mr Amos Weller' (applause). Mr Newington rose and said he desired to make a few observations, rather to supplement what the Chairman had said than anything else, before Mr Weller responded to the toast. Most of those present recollected the time when the club was as near as possible bankrupt. It went on for some years in that condition until the late vicar took the management up and, backed up by the officers, laid the foundation of prosperity to it, and the result was its present satisfactory state. They all knew the esteem in which the Rev Mr de St Croix was held by the society, and in proof of that he had only to point to the testimonial (a silver snuff-box) which they presented him with in the year 1862, as a token of their regard of him (applause). The officers of the society had continued that sound system what the late lamented Vicar laid down for it, and which he (Mr Newington) wished other clubs would adopt, and they were entitled to the thanks of the members for the cordial and happy manner in which they had worked together, and for the success which had attended their exertions. In conclusion, Mr Newington said societies of this kind were of a character which most people felt were worthy of support; they were associations in which those belonging to them managed their own affairs, and in which they dealt with their own money, and the present satisfaction of this club testified that its members were fully competent to carry out these two matters. He himself felt deeply thankful for the pains which the officers of the club took in its management (applause). In returning thanks for the compliments paid to him and the officers of the club, the Secretary acknowledged the valuable assistance he had received from the committee, and whilst remarking that there was naturally a reason for drawing a dark side of the picture in the loss the society had sustained in the loss of the vicar – who, he said, was its 'mainstay' – urged the members to look hopefully to the future (applause). The Chairman proposed 'The Honorary Members', coupled with the health of the Right Hon the Speaker, the toast of whose health, individually ought, he said, to have been introduced to the notice of the company before. The Speaker had always been a great friend of the club, and ever anxious to promote its well-being and interest, and one of the best speeches he (Mr Hart) ever heard was delivered by the right hon gentleman on the benefits derived by classes of society mingling together, which greatly increased the respect of one towards the other. In the absence of the Right Hon the Speaker, Mr Colgate was called on to respond. He remarked that it was a great source of regret to the right hon gentleman that he was compelled to return to London that day, because he had for a long time looked forward to dining with the club again this year. Mr Colgate went on to express the pride and pleasure which he himself felt on the occasion of this annual festival when, no matter what their position of life might be, they all met on one footing, and in the most friendly spirit possible (hear, hear). They all knew the loss they had sustained in the departure from this world of their good friend, the Rev Mr de St Croix, but they must not be without hope. There was another vicar appointed, and the impression he (Mr Colgate) had formed of him at a first meeting was very favourable. He had no doubt the rev gentleman would join the society, and do what he could on its behalf. Mr Colgate concluded by observing that he had been an hon member of the society for 30 years, and that the occasion of its anniversary was one of the most pleasurable days of his life (applause). 'The health of the Treasurer, Mr Charles Weller', having been given by the Chairman, Mr Newington proposed 'Prosperity to the Glynde Friendly Society;, remarking that all the time its management continued as at present, and the same spirit prevailed among the members, he had no fear but that it would go on and prosper. He was not disposed to take a gloomy view of affairs in the present condition of thing concerning the club; he had great hope in their coming clergyman, who, he hoped, would follow in the footsteps of the late vicar in the interest he evinced for the welfare of the club and the parish generally (applause). This concluded the toasts, and the company adjourned to the outside, where dancing and other amusements were indulged in, a pleasant day being passed. In the course of the after-dinner proceedings, letters were stated to have been received from Rev F J Mount, Vicar of Firle, and W L Christie, esq, stating that unavoidable business engagements prevented their attendance.
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