Chairman Simon Jenkins’ farewell speech at the Trust’s AGM

WELCOME to Swindon. This has been a good six years in the history of the Trust. We are in excellent shape, the money sound and the membership rising.

You know the figures: membership through 4m, visits to properties through 20m and visits to our wider estate approaching 200m. Our operating surplus has risen by a third, enabling us to spend record sums on conservation, our prime responsibility.

Acquisitions have slowed, but we have taken on Vanbrugh’s mighty Seaton Delaval, Tredegar and Dyffryn in south Wales, Lord Nuffield’s eccentric lodge outside Henley, Arts and Crafts at Stoneywell and the delightful Asalache house (575 Wandsworth Road). We have acquired the last white cliff of Dover and the exquisite Llyn Dinas under Snowdon.

As chairman I can do nothing alone. I want to pay a tribute to my board who have been committed and loyal throughout what have been years of change. I want to pay particular thanks to my deputy Charles Gurassa, who must have broken all records for length of service. And to our new Director General Helen Ghosh who will address you shortly. I also want to thank the staff. We have the best staff in the charity sector.

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The National Trust’s position on party politics

The National Trust is a non-political, independent charity which exists to look after some of the country’s most treasured countryside for the benefit of the nation. It does not take a party political position on planning or any other issue.

Click here to read our latest views on the current planning system.

Trust statement on reciprocal agreements

“We are aware of a very small number of cases which involve people in the UK joining an overseas conservation organisation, with which we have reciprocal visiting rights, in order to access Trust sites at a lower cost.  As a conservation charity, we rely heavily on the money we receive from our memberships and visitors to look after the beautiful properties, gardens, coastline and countryside in our care for the nation to enjoy. 

“It’s therefore deeply disappointing that some people choose to take advantage of this arrangement and effectively opt to pay no donation directly to the charity which looks after the places they enjoy visiting. The more people that do this, the less money we will have to look after these special places. 

“Reciprocal visiting arrangements were set up to ensure people who supported conservation and heritage charities in their own countries could enjoy similar places abroad for free. They provide a way we can increase the value our members get from joining the National Trust, and many enjoy using their cards in countries like New Zealand, Canada and Scotland. Currently, the benefits we gain and the supporters we attract through our reciprocal visiting arrangements far outweigh any lost revenue from the very small number of people who do decide to join overseas. 

“We believe our membership offers great value for money – a family membership costs less than £8.20 a month and provides unlimited access to hundreds of locations across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Our members also enjoy a number of benefits that are not available to those joining from other countries, including free parking at nearly all our places, our Members’ Handbook and our magazine.  Also, over the coming 12 months they will experience further benefits with the introduction of a new supporter loyalty programme.”

ends

National Trust response to English Heritage New Model announcement

The Government today confirmed plans, announced last year, to restructure English Heritage.

This will see the division of English Heritage into a charity looking after heritage sites and a statutory body called Historic England.

Ingrid Samuel, National Trust Historic Environment Director says:

“This is a very important moment for the future of heritage in this country. This innovative step to divide English Heritage changes the landscape, and it offers a real opportunity to support stronger heritage protection through a new Historic England.

“As a charity dedicated to looking after the nation’s natural and built heritage we need both English Heritage and Historic England to remain strong partners with the sector, having access to the resources and support they require.

“Appropriate levels of funding are crucially important to achieving this, and we welcome the Government’s commitment to financial certainty into the next financial year.

“However, careful monitoring will be necessary in future to ensure both English Heritage and Historic England have the resources they require over the long-term.

“We are pleased that the Government intends to review progress and funding for both bodies, but they must be prepared to act if required. We hope these reviews will seek the opinions of the Trust and others on how well the changes are working.

“One immediate concern is whether English Heritage will be able to build up sufficient reserves early enough to cushion them in moments of need. We have always said it is vital that Historic England is insulated from the business risks of the new charity to ensure it can remain a strong champion and effective regulator for the historic environment. This, along with a broad remit, is particularly important as local authority heritage provision continues to come under increasing pressure.

“With future spending reviews it is vital that all political parties show commitment to supporting England’s heritage.

“We look forward to working in partnership with the two new bodies to safeguard heritage.”

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-model-for-english-heritage-moves-a-step-closer-following-consultation

Beef and beer come out top at the Fine Farm Produce Awards

Two producers have risen to the top to be crowned overall food and overall drinks winner at this year’s Fine Farm Produce Awards.

Neil and Sally Grigg from Burrow Farm in Devon - overall food winner at the Fine Farm Produce Awards 2014

Neil and Sally Grigg from Burrow Farm in Devon – overall food winner at the Fine Farm Produce Awards 2014

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New garden created by an army of volunteers opens to commemorate First World War

A new half an acre garden of reflection created by 60 volunteers over the past eight months, opens today at Sandham Memorial Chapel in Hampshire, marking the centenary of Great Britain’s intervention in the First World War. Continue reading

Hydropower returns to Cragside and lights up history

A new Archimedes screw at Cragside in Northumberland will harness the power of water to relight this grand Victorian house just as its previous owner Lord Armstrong did back in 1878. Continue reading