Meet the Board & Trustee recruitment

Meet the Trustees elected at the October AGM 2017 and find out about Trustee recruitment

Trustee Post Holders:

Mrs Margaret Knight – Chair of Trustees

I am a chartered librarian with extensive experience in public, government and school libraries.  I am formerly the Librarian of Harrow School, London, during which time I planned and oversaw the refurbishment of the Grade 2* historic library. 

I have been a member of the DEI since 2007, a volunteer librarian for 5 years and a Trustee for three. 

My contribution as a trustee includes chairing the Library, Research and Publications Committee and membership of the Project and Programming Committee which secured successful funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England.  I have also chaired the Procedures Committee and am link trustee to the Librarian Anne Howard. 

I actively support the development work of Emma Dunn, Programme Manager and Anne Howard, Librarian. These key roles are crucial to our future success, the furtherance of our reputation locally and nationally amongst our funding partners and the wider library and research world. I believe that the conservation of our resources, the development of our education and research role and our mutually beneficial relationship with the University of Exeter are fundamental to our role in the local and national arena.  

I wish to support and welcome our present and future members and encourage their involvement in this unique and special place. 

Mr Derek Knight – Hon Secretary

Until retirement I was head of Hertfordshire’s countywide public library service, having spent my entire career as a professional librarian. I have voluntary work experience with charitable organisations as a trustee director of a Citizens Advice Bureau and am currently secretary of the National Coastwatch Institution at Exmouth.

I am a regular DEI library volunteer and have contributed to the Development Project by my membership of the collections working group. I managed a large and diverse organisation through times of change and can appreciate the challenges facing the DEI.  The professional staff deserve huge credit for the way that they have successfully delivered recent initiatives, both to the DEI members and with our heritage partners in Exeter and beyond.

I support the continuing reinvigoration of the DEI library and building as a centre for the promotion and enjoyment of learning and study and I encourage the engagement of our members, volunteers and other partners to deliver this. We need to embrace the benefits of change while retaining the legacy established by the founders. 

Mr Jeremy Lawford – Membership Secretary

I am a retired headmaster.  I became a member of the Institution in 1993 to pursue my interests in local and family history. I have served three terms as a Trustee, and have edited the DEI Newsletter for the last six years.

I have led the conversion of the Institution to become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation.  I am standing for another year in order to guide and oversee the final stages of that process.  As the new Board have all been elected on the same day, it will be necessary for one third of them to retire at the next AGM to initiate the process of rotation.  Having completed the change in our charitable status, my intention would be to step down at that point. 

Mr John Reeves -Treasurer

I have been a member of the DEI since 2011 and supported the roof works funding. For three years I have been a volunteer house guide for The National Trust.  This year I also volunteered at the DEI, giving tours of the Institution, supporting its public access initiative and encouraging new memberships. 

I hold a BA(Hons) in Economics from Reading University and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Bath.  I am a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.   

 For 10 years I was a Senior Principal in a regional manager role in the Civil Service in the South West, managing 200 people in nine locations.  I have extensive leadership, recruitment and personnel management experience which I could bring to the trustee role.  Also I have worked as a project and programme manager, having a PRINCE2 qualification. 

 I have a passion for nineteenth century architecture, design and its preservation.  I am a big supporter of the DEI building and library improvement projects to help sustain and conserve the DEI going forward.  I am a member of the Victorian Society and a Life Friend of RAMM. 

 My other interests include gardening, gardens, travelling, theatre and drawing. 


Mrs Sandra Bond 

As a member I have greatly appreciated what the Institution has to offer.

In my professional career as a teacher I have experience of working in committees managing budgets to achieve success in common goals. I was elected President of the Primary Teachers Association in South Australia as well as being very active in the Technology Teachers Association Committee. Since returning to England I have lived in Dunsford and worked for the Devon Library Service. Now I work for the Dartmoor National Park Authority. Within my own community I am an active school governor working towards our small rural school becoming part of a multi Academy Trust. 

I will work collaboratively with the others to maintain what we appreciate within the Institution while making sure that we are ready for the future.  


Mrs Katharine Chant 

I have been a member of DEI since 1993 (first institutional as Director of RAMM and then personal). I have been a Trustee for two years and, mainly, involved in the HLF and Historic England funded Development Project which still has nine months to run and which covered not only the roof restoration but also the splendid work of our Programme Manager and Librarian (and their wonderful volunteers) and has led to a new long term relationship with the University.

I will continue to support at Trustee level this work which is embedded in both our charitable objectives and the founding ideals of the DEI to which I am totally committed. I bring heritage funding expertise and a network of heritage contacts. I am proud that we have achieved Saturday opening but we need to do more to both recruit members of working age and involve them in governance and if re-elected I would want to work to achieve this. 

Mr Christopher Chanter 

I have been a Trustee of the DEI before in the last 6 years during the start of the roof restoration/renewal and was closely involved with the fund raising from an early stage. 

I have been and am a Trustee of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society which is the Freehold owner of Taunton Castle and substantial property around it, plus over half of the County Museum’s priceless collection of books, maps and documents that still belong to the Society. 

I was the sole owner of STONE’s beeswax furniture cream made in Devon since 1760 for 20 years before passing it on last year.  During that time I became very involved in Historic Building Preservation techniques and antique restoration of all things wood and leather.  I have carried out programmes of enhancement and improvement at Forde Abbey and Prideaux Place amongst other places apart from some 20 historic churches and places of worship. 

I adore the DEI and wish to keep its unique atmosphere intact. 

Professor Henry French – University of Exeter nominated Trustee

I took my first degree and doctorate at the University of Cambridge (in 1989 and 1993 respectively), the latter under the supervision of Keith Wrightson and Margaret Spufford. Since then, I have taught at the Universities of Central Lancashire, Manchester, Essex, and East Anglia, before coming to Exeter in 2001. My own research has focused on the definition and social identity of ‘middle sort’ within rural society in the seventeenth century. I have published articles on this subject in a number of journals, and completed a monograph on this subject which was published by Oxford University Press in July 2007.

Having worked on two research projects with Prof. Richard Hoyle at the University of Central Lancashire between 1994-99, I am also co-author of two articles on land ownership and the decline of the small farmer in early modern England. Prof. Hoyle and I published a monograph study with Manchester University Press of land ownership in the Essex village of Earls Colne in March 2007, entitled The Character of English Rural Society, 1550-1750: Earls Colne revisited. In recent years, I have pursued another theme in agrarian history – the fate of the urban common lands – in two articles published in the Agricultural History Review.

I am also the editor (with Jonathan Barry) of a series of essays on the subject of ‘Identity and Agency in Early Modern England’, published by Palgrave Press in 2004, based on a research colloquium held at Exeter in September 2002. I was awarded an 3-year AHRC research award in June 2007, to study masculinity and the landed gentry between the seventeenth and early twentieth centuries, with Dr Mark Rothery.

 Mr Paul Vincent – Newsletter Editor

I have been member of the DEI for around 20 years.  I use the Library once a week for research and study – as well as enjoying the DEI’s fine lunch-time hospitality.  I am a Volunteer in the Library on alternate Saturday afternoons.

Originally from Bideford, my home is now in Crediton.  I studied Classics, then Oriental Studies (Japanese) at Oriel College, Oxford.  From 1989 I ran a gallery for studio ceramics in Exeter, and also published a periodical on ceramics.  For several years in the 1990s I edited the Exeter Flying Post magazine (copies of which are held at the DEI.)  I was active in campaigning for enhanced community spaces within the Princesshay/Bedford Street redevelopment.

I support the work of our staff in restoring our Library facilities, and in bringing our organisational structures and administrative policies up to date.  I will support fresh opportunities for Members to engage more closely with Trustees, to imagine and develop the role of the Institution into the future.

May 2018

Dear Members

Are you interested in being a trustee at the DEI?

We are looking for new Trustees to take up a governance role from June 2018 or at our AGM in November 2018.

This is a voluntary role and offers many challenges and rewards.

We have recently changed our status from a Charitable Association to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. The present board of trustees was elected in October 2017 with newly elected trustees taking on the roles of Hon. Treasurer and Hon. Secretary and a change of Chair responsibility. The new team are enthusiastically engaged in planning our programme of future activities.

We are looking for dynamic and experienced individuals to join our team, able to support the Institution to continue to move forward and to uphold the purposes of our charity.  Our charitable objects are the advancement of public education particularly in the History, Literature and Arts of the County of Devon, the City of Exeter and of the South West of England  and the advancement of heritage by the preservation of  our building and unique collection.

We are particularly interested in hearing from those with experience in ICT, finance and marketing. However, any member wishing to take an active role in the DEI and to commit to a few hours each week would be very welcome to apply.

Time commitment: The Board of Trustees meets monthly, in addition an active role within the Institution for a few hours most weeks would be desirable.

For more information please contact me:

Margaret Knight, Chair

Board of Trustees