Birth of an Association

I witnessed the birth of an Association today. Like many births, it started out well enough but soon got complicated and painful! But I think that’s normal for France.

The Maire of Nouzerines invited the commune’s residents to a meeting to establish an Asso to raise funds to restore our lovely church of Saint Clair. This eleventh to twelfth century church is always referred to as ‘remarquable’ in literature about it, because of its pure Roman style. Like many churches with wooden spires, it has a wonky look as the wood has twisted over the years. Its transept and chevet have been given protected status as they are such fine architectural examples.

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An old photo of Nouzerines showing St Clair's and the Mairie

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Back to the meeting. M le Maire explained that the restoration work needs to get underway as soon as possible. The whole thing is going to cost more than 600, 000 euros.

He has applied for various grants, which between them will cover about half of the cost. The rest is up to us. There is one body that will match what we raise euro for euro, and if more than 20% of the commune give donations to the cause, that will qualify us for another grant.

The drawback is that there are only around 250 inhabitants. So raising in the region of a  quarter of a million euro between us could take some ingenuity. And time. Fortunately the restoration work will be undertaken in two phases. The first one needs about 159,000 euro and is external work. That’s what we’ll concentrate on first, and once that’s underway we can think about fundraising for the more expensive phase.

Anyway, it was time to form the committee. There were ten volunteers, so it all looked like being sorted out quickly. The Maire proposed we vote for a president, vice president, secretary, assistant secretary, treasurer and assistant treasurer there and then. Good – we’d get home in time for dinner. But a couple of people were worried that this wasn’t the proper way to do things. A committee should only be voted for by paid-up members of the association in question, apparently. Yes, but, it was pointed out, we need to appoint a committee to decide what the cotisation (subscription fee) will be and to actually form the association before it can have any paid-up members. There were many suggestions as to how to solve this seemingly impossible situation. Finally the maire decided that the notices he had sent out about the meeting and an ad put in the paper were enough notice to turn the meeting into an AGM so voting could take place. The volunteers trooped off to the maire’s office for a secret ballot, and the rest of us drifted off in a homewards direction. We’d done our part for now.

There had been some concern during the morning that this new asso might be too much for little Nouzerines, which already has three in existence – the Summer Fete committee, the hunting club and the veterans association. However, after much debate, it was felt that our new asso wouldn’t tread on anyone else’s toes and would be able to work alongside the others in a friendly way. No feuds or schisms likely to splinter our peaceful commune thankfully.