Derby Book Festival appoints Professor Keith McLay as new Chair of Trustees

8 February 2024

Professor Keith McLay, Provost - Learning & Teaching at the University of Derby, has been appointed as the new Chair of Derby Book Festival. He takes over from Liz Fothergill CBE, the Lord-Lieutenant of Derbyshire, who has held the position since the Festival’s inception in February 2015.  

Professor McLay has been a Derby Book Festival Trustee since October 2019 and has provided an important link between the Festival and the University, one of its key funders. He has also taken an active role at the Festivals by interviewing several high-profile authors on both fiction and non-fiction.

His academic interests lie in military history and he will interview the former Head of the Diplomatic Service, Lord Simon McDonald, at the Festival’s Spring Collection (29 February to 4 March) to discuss two books: Leadership and Beyond Britannia: Reshaping UK Foreign Policy and journalist and campaigner Peter Apps on Deterring Armageddon: A Biography of NATO.

Professor Keith McLay
Professor Keith McLay

Professor McLay said:

“It is a privilege to be taking on the role of Chair of Trustees which builds on the strong partnership that the University already has with Derby Book Festival.

“Events such as the Book Festival are of vital importance in promoting culture within our city, and it is encouraging to witness its growth and continuing success. As a Civic University we champion the arts as a driver for positive change within our communities and the Book Festival plays a pivotal role in this.  I am excited to see what this next chapter in our partnership will bring.” 

Departing Chair, Liz Fothergill CBE, has held the role for nine years (three terms of three years, the limit allowed by the Festival’s Constitution). During this time, the Festival has grown both in terms of the expansion of the Festivals from one to three each year with increased ticket sales, but also in its reach across local communities with the community programme. This includes the Shared Reading project, funded by National Lottery, supporting health and wellbeing in places like care homes and libraries and the schools’ programme involving around 18,000 children and young people through Meet the Author events and the Children’s Picture Book Award.

Liz will now take on a role as the Festival’s first Patron. Liz said:

“It has been a privilege and an absolute joy to chair Derby Book Festival during its first nine years. We have been well supported at every step of our journey with partners and local businesses especially keen to see another cultural gem in the city’s calendar. People have been brought together in a love of books and an appreciation of the positive impact that reading for pleasure can bring to all our lives. We have been honoured to host some world class authors and, without exception, all have enjoyed the warmth and welcome from our audiences.

“It has been marvellous to work with such a talented, innovative and dynamic team, staff members and my fellow trustees and I know the Festival will go from strength to strength as its outreach touches and enhances all our communities.”

The Festival is about to hold its first Spring Collection from Thursday 29 February to Monday 4 March with 16 book-related events in venues across the city including QUAD, Artcore and Derby Museums. This will be the first of three Festivals that will be presented by Derby Book Festival in 2024 offering year-round events for their audiences. They are all funded by Arts Council England and the University of Derby with sponsorship from several local businesses and individuals.  

Tickets are available from the Festival website, which also contains full details of all the events. You can book tickets for all events to be hosted by QUAD online and from their box office either in-person or by telephone. Tickets for events at Artcore and Derby Museums can only be booked online.

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