Dear Members,

Since I wrote to you in early December, we have continued to make progress on a number of fronts.

I am delighted to tell you that our premises at Doughty Mews are now officially up for sale. We are asking for offers in excess of £2.85 million. And we are now beginning in earnest our search for a new home. No decision has been taken as to location, but we are well aware of the need for accessibility.

Dr Martin Bommas’ four year term as Editor-in-Chief of JEA comes to an end soon, and you may have seen on the website that in November we asked for expressions of interest from persons interested in filling the post. We had a strong field of applicants and a panel comprising Cédric Gobeil and five Trustees (Luigi Prada, Neal Spencer, Alice Stevenson, Linda Steynor and me) interviewed the four shortlisted candidates. We have appointed Dr Claudia Näser, a lecturer at UCL. Martin will continue to be responsible for volume 104.1, due out this summer, and Claudia will take over from 104.2. Thanks to Martin for his contribution over the last years and best wishes to Claudia for the future.

We had 10 applications for research grants this year and 15 from early career Egyptologists for Centenary Awards. The Fieldwork and Research Committee met last month and the Trustees considered their recommendations at our meeting earlier this month. The recipients will be announced when all applicants have been notified. In addition, we have decided to offer two new £1,000 awards in the next financial year, to doctoral students studying at UK universities, to enable them to visit Egypt and carry out research there.   

Six UK institutions have expressed an interest in taking library books that we offered to them, and Carl and I, with the help of Tilly Burton, are working out the allocation.  As I mentioned before, the library will be for research only from 1 April and books will not be available for borrowing after that date.

The fundraising working and outreach groups met in January and we are making good progress on planning and production of literature.

I know this year’s AGM (24th November) is a long way off, but as usual there will be some vacancies on the Board due to Trustee retirements. Margaret Maitland and Neal Spencer will retire and having served for 6 years cannot stand for re-election. In addition, Linda Steynor, our vice-chair, will have served for seven years.  The Board intends to recommend a special resolution at the AGM that Linda be reappointed for a further year, as an additional director. So this year I expect there to be three places for new Board members, in addition to those of trustees retiring by rotation who will offer themselves for re-election.  Any member who would like to volunteer, or knows someone they think would make a useful addition to the Board, should click here where all the necessary information can be found. We are hoping in particular to recruit someone with proven expertise in fundraising.

Martha Blackwell, our finance and business manager, left this month to go back to part-time working; the Trustees are grateful for all she did while she was with us. I am pleased to tell you that Neville Leslie, who has been helping Martha since last summer, has agreed to take over all the finance aspects of the role. The office manager and administration aspects of Martha’s role are being shared among Cédric, Carl and Jan, and we are advertising for a part-time (3 days a week) Collections Manager to assist Carl and relieve some of the pressure on him, as he has also agreed to study for a fundraising qualification. In addition, we have entered into an agreement with IB Tauris to distribute our books (other than the JEA, EA and members’ copies of GRM) from 1 April, which should alleviate the admin load on the office. But the next few months will be particularly busy, with (I hope!) a large number of membership renewals as well as property viewings,  and I ask for your forbearance if the staff do not respond to inquiries as quickly as they have been accustomed to do in the past.

With best wishes,

Margaret Mountford