Chairman's Report 1998

Sixth Annual General Meeting, December 1998.

The major events of the year have been the visit of President Ali Abdullah Salih to Britain in November 1997, which HE Dr Hussain al-Amri has confirmed was a great success, and the Yemen Festival; both events demonstrated the very marked improvement in Yemeni-British relations. The Festival was limited by financial constraints but introduced notable aspects of Yemeni culture to a wider British public. The Society contributed financially to exhibitions at the British Museum and the Institute of Archaeology and Dr Abdullah Abdul Wali Nasher, Minister of Health, made exceptional efforts to raise funds for the Festival within Yemen. We had an opportunity to thank him by organising a reception for him at the Travellers’ Club in the autumn, to which a number of NGOs were invited. We are also grateful to the companies and to the many individuals who supported the Festival.

The Society sponsored the travel toYemen of two archaeological students to work at the al-Hamid site and thereby further their own studies; they will be reporting to the Society on the results of their trip in a lecture next year.

The second essay competition once again drew a disappointing response. The Committee has decided not to repeat the competition in its present form but to discuss with the British Council and theYemeni-British Friendship Association in Yemen some alternative likely to prove more successful.

Douglas Scrafton has completed his tour as Ambassador in Sana’a and the Society’s gratitude for his help and advice should be recorded; he has been succeeded by Victor Henderson who has agreed to become the Society’s Co-President.

The Christmas Appeal for the Health and Culture Centre in Sana’a raised over £1,000.

Two Committee members are resigning — Venetia Porter and Francine Stone. They were founder members of the Society and deserve our warmest thanks for their sterling work. Meanwhile, on behalf of you all, I propose to send best wishes for a speedy recovery to Jim Ellis, also a founder member. He has led the Society’s three annual tours to Yemen and these have made a considerable contribution to the Society’s funds.

This year we have 205 ordinary and student members and eight corporate members, compared to 179 and seven last year.

Under the constitution, Honorary Officers may only serve two terms of three years. This means that Michael Whittall, Julian Lush and I, myself, must all be gone by the AGM in 1999. Rather than all three of us going at the same time, I am resigning this year. I am delighted that Stephen Day has accepted nomination as my replacement, and that Julian Paxton has agreed to become Hon. Secretary when Julian Lush retires next year. I am also grateful to John Shipman for agreeing to take over as Editor of the Journal.

Finally, I would like to thank our Co-President, the Ambassador, and his staff for all their support and, in particular, for inviting the Society once again to hold its AGM in the Yemeni Embassy and for hosting a reception for us afterwards.

William (Bill) D Heber Percy MBE

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