A belated Happy New Year to all our BioNews readers.
Unfortunately, 2018 has not got off to a good start for the Progress Educational Trust (PET). When Sandy, our communications manager, popped in the office on 2 January (while still on annual leave), he found that there had been a substantial leak from the flat above us. To give you an idea of the scale of the problem, enough water had come through our ceiling to leak through our floor into the office below.
Sandy notified the landlord, and an electrician came out and disconnected two of the lights as they were unsafe - the water had come through the light fittings.
Meanwhile, I was away in Liverpool at the Fertility 2018 conference (where PET was exhibiting) until 6 January, trying to do what I could to sort out the situation remotely. Our landlords - always evasive when there is a problem - did nothing until 9 January, when they finally installed a dehumidifier and sent someone to photograph the damage.
On Wednesday 10 January, one of our wonderful trustees - John Parsons - came in and helped me rip up the wet carpet, to allow the floor underneath to dry out quicker. The carpet is beyond saving.
Luckily, the PET team is resilient and resourceful. Sandy did what he could in the office, in horrid conditions, to prevent things being damaged further. Within minutes of me sending out an email asking the Friends of PET for help, we had found Sandy a temporary desk he could work at in someone else's office (such is the generosity of our supporters that he had several offers).
The editors all agreed to work from home, and published last week's BioNews as usual. I'm sure you didn't notice anything different.
Dealing with management agents, landlords, landlords' building contractors and insurance companies has taken up a huge amount of time, and we still have no clear picture of when we will be able to return to PET HQ. Much as I pride myself on being to work anywhere, the smell and feeling of damp, the noise of the dehumidifier and the mould which has already started to grow on the walls and ceiling make it an unhealthy work environment.
So Dry January has taken on a very different meaning in the PET office, even if our predicament hasn't dampened our sense of humour.
But we do need your help. We need to raise funds to cover the time lost, and the expenses we won't be able to recoup from the landlord or the insurance company. We should like to raise £4,000 to cover these, and to make some of the other changes to the office we were planning before the leak occurred.