Report of the Annual General Meeting, February 26, 2011
PRESENT: Twenty-two members and one guest were present; apologies for absence were received from eight members.

The Chairman opened the meeting by welcoming all those present, particularly those from overseas; and then called for a minute's silence in memory of the five members who had passed away during the year. After apologies for absence and approval of the minutes of the 2010 AGM (proposed Edmund Hall, seconded John Sears), the Secretary mentioned one matter arising - the Circle's action in supporting the Philatelic Society of Egypt in its efforts to deter illegal photocopying and sale of copyright books and other material. The action seemed to have born fruit.

Subscriptions appeal Please remember that subscriptions for the present year must be paid by the date of the Annual Meeting. The easy way for all members who are able to do so is to pay by bank standing order - once arranged it can safely be forgotten, with benefits all round! The Circle account is at Barclays Bank (Wood Green Group), sort code 20-98-21, account number 60334731: please use your surname and membership number as references.

Chairman's Report: The Chairman remarked with pleasure and gratitude on the larger than usual attendance and asked members not to hesitate in expressing views on how we might attract more members to meetings. He mentioned that the TPOs meeting in January, informal though it was, was extremely successful, so much so in fact that it was decided to hold a formal TPO study meeting in September instead of the planned topic. He was happy to be able to report that no New Zealand members or families had suffered in the recent earthquake, and hoped that it might once more be able to arrange a visit to Egypt in November. Vahe Varjabedian mentioned that the Cairo society had bought a set of 80 frames in order to limit its dependence on the Post Office for support, and said that it was hoped to arrange an exhibition at a Cairo hotel in November.

Secretary's Report: The Secretary put before the meeting an application for membership from Pauline Gittoes of Southampton, who was present as a guest, and on her election by acclamation was able to announce that membership stood at 193, precisely the same number as a year ago, after the number falling by the wayside was precisely matched by the number of new members - 15.

He announced that for the first time the Macarthur Award for the best and most significant QC article from the previous year had been won by an Egyptian member, and congratulated Hany Salam, for his important research into Official Mails between 1866 and 1888. Remarkably, the win was by a single vote ahead of another Egyptian member, Vahe Varjabedian, who wrote about the Continental Hotel in Cairo.

Treasurer's Report: The Treasurer presented the accounts for the year to December 31, 2010, which showed an overall loss for the year of 231.07. Income remained virtually the same, at approximately 5,600, but costs increased, largely on account of the very successful Circle 75th Anniversary lunch at the Victory Services Club and extra costs associated with increased colour production of the Quarterly Circular (the special enlarged Anniversary edition was all in colour, prompting a Macarthur vote from one member, who said: "For me, every page was a wealth of interesting and useful information."). Postage costs for the QC also increased remarkably quickly, and the remaining stock of Circle ties was written off (though the Secretary still has a tiny stock, available at a bargain 3.50 each!!). Approval was proposed Alan Jeyes, seconded Mike Murphy.

The Treasurer then proposed a vote of thanks to the Accountant, Stephen Bunce (ESC 272), which was seconded by Mike Murphy and warmly applauded.

Auction Report: John Sears reported a slight disappointment with results this year. With a slight drop in sales, and the single auction having to bear the whole cost of insurance, the net profit was only 133 from Auction 49, resulting in a smaller than usual (1,200 instead of 1,500) transfer to the General Account. He hoped for a good result from today's experimental Live Auction, and said that it was crucial to have volunteers in 2012 to help in running the major Auction, which has been a mainstay in subsidising the Circle's running costs for several years.

Editor/Webmaster Report: Edmund Hall's report on the QC was short and to the point: "You write the QC, not me," he said. "Unless I have articles from members, there won't be a QC. If you want it to continue, please submit material."

He gave a guarded welcome to the results of the website survey contained on the green sheet with the December QC, noting that 24 members had voted for the site to continue, 18 felt that the members-only section should be expanded, but that only seven had offered to help with its production. Given that 24 is about one eighth of our membership, and that members have an incomprehensibly poor record of support, it could be said that that was a good result members unfamiliar with HOW they can help in keeping the site updated and interesting, worth returning to, will find a brief article in this QC giving hints and tips as to what would be helpful and useful. As ever, the Officers are grateful for even the smallest help.

Librarian's report: John Davis reported that 87 had been spent on books during the year, and that postage costs amounted to 24.69. He made clear that the Library is not only extensive but also a useful tool available to members in the UK, and that if postage costs were deterring members from borrowing, he was always willing to bring books to a specific meeting to be collected.

To fill the vacancy left by the sad passing of Dennis Clarke, Dr Sami Sadek (ESC 559) was elected to the Committee (proposed John Sears, seconded Mike Murphy), and the Secretary noted that one further Committee position remained vacant should volunteers be forthcoming. He informed the meeting with great regret of the resignation (from February 2012) of our North American Agent, Richard Wilson; he will be sorely missed, and perhaps this is a suitable moment for a review of the Agent system

There was no further business, and the meeting decided in principle that the date of the next Annual Meeting should echo as closely as possible this one, that is, on the Saturday of Spring Stampex.

There then followed the absolute novelty of a Live Auction in the room, undoubtedly a feature that helped to attract a record number of 23 members to the AGM, and one that certainly helped to cement the idea of repeating the venture at next year's Annual Meeting.

Without a doubt, this was a great success, and Officers heaped praise on the organiser, Edmund Hall, his helpers, Mike Murphy, Brian Sedgley and John Davis, and half a dozen members for submitting material for sale. A total of 214 lots were illustrated on the website in advance, allowing email bids from those not present, and room bidding started where the email bids stopped.

There was fierce bidding on some lots, and the upshot was a remarkable 62 per cent of the lots sold (133 out of 214), split between email bidders (68 lots won for approximately 1,550), and room bidders, who were able to take away their purchases at the end of the auction (65 sold, for approximately 1,500). All in all a fascinating afternoon - and some 300 commission for the Circle.

The usual suspects.

For a change, there was no formal closure to the meeting, merely a feeling all round that it had been a happy and worthwhile afternoon, and that everyone had enjoyed themselves.

* The Secretary would like to bring to members' attention the fact that he has received an extensive further list of the Egypt books left by the late Dennis Clarke. If any member would like to view the list - no reasonable offer refused for any book - please contact the Secretary.

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