Mount Stewart celebrates completion of £8m restoration

Mount Stewart, on the shores of Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland opens today after a three year, £8million restoration project sees this grand house returned to its former glory.

The Central Hall at Mount Stewart. Credit Elaine Hill

The Central Hall at Mount Stewart. Credit Elaine Hill

Visitors to the National Trust landmark can now enjoy the reinvigorated and re-decorated house with previously unopened rooms including the butler’s silver store and billiard room. Continue reading

Trust launches consultation on proposed changes to final salary pension scheme

The National Trust has today (Monday 9 March 2015) begun formal negotiations on the proposed closure of its defined pension scheme to future accrual on 31 March 2016.

Consultation on the closure of the National Trust Retirement and Death Benefits Scheme will last for 60 days, to ensure staff have plenty of time to contribute their views. Negotiations will be made through the Trust’s recognised trade union Prospect.

Following our most recent valuation it is likely that the scheme will show a deficit of £116m (as at 5 April 2014).

This increased from £69m since our last three-year valuation in 2011.   We have therefore agreed in principle with the pension scheme trustees to significantly increase our deficit recovery payments from £3m a year now to £8.5m a year from 2016.  This will increase by CPI+1% year on year until 2029.   

We have maintained the scheme for as long as possible through good financial management.  However, we have made these proposals now because we feel we can no longer sustain the level of cost and risk associated with providing a defined benefit pension scheme without it impacting on our ability to fulfil our core purpose of looking after thousands of special places on behalf of the nation forever, for everyone. 

The defined benefit scheme closed to new entrants in 2003 and therefore the proposed changes would impact around 1,200 members of staff or approximately 16% of our permanent workforce. 

Should the proposals be adopted, members of staff would join 2,500 colleagues in our defined contributions scheme from 1 April 2016.  In this scheme we would match any contributions they make between 4% and 10%. We feel this represents a good pension scheme for a charity and would ensure greater parity of benefit across our whole workforce. 

These proposed changes do not impact on the benefits of existing pensioners or deferred members of the defined benefit scheme.

The decision to make these proposals has not been easy and one which we have deliberated over for some time.  However, we believe that the steps we are proposing to take will not only secure employees’ accrued benefits but also provide greater financial stability for the Trust in the long term.


Flipping pancakes launches Glendurgan maze appeal

The team at the National Trust’s Glendurgan garden near Falmouth in Cornwall is asking for support to raise a £50,000 ‘hedge fund’ to help pay for ongoing work which will keep its 180 year old maze healthy and open to visitors. Continue reading

Blooming Valentines set to beat the winter blues with 17 per cent more flowers

This year’s milder, calmer and less wet winter has been much kinder to gardens as gardeners and volunteers have found in the Trust’s annual Valentines Flower Count. Continue reading

Mount Stewart reunited with its historic demesne

Mount Stewart’s world famous house and gardens are set to be reunited with their historic demesne after more than 50 years.

The news comes as the National Trust today announced plans which will see the area which the conservation charity looks after increase from 100 to 1000 acres. Continue reading

Lundy Island and Sir Jack Hayward

This week businessman and former owner of Wolves football club, Sir Jack Hawyard, died aged 91. In the late 1960s Sir Jack helped the National Trust acquire Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel through a substantial gift.

Lundy Island - an island rich in human and natural history - bought by the National Trust in 1969

Lundy Island – an island rich in human and natural history – bought by the National Trust in 1969

Rob Joules, General Manager for North Devon, said: “Sir Jack Hayward’s gift to the Neptune campaign in 1969 which enabled the National Trust to buy the magical Lundy Island was incredibly generous and allowed us to ensure that the public could continue to enjoy the island forever. Since 1969 tens of thousands of people have been over to the island and enjoyed it first hand; and many millions more have longingly gazed across at the island from the north Devon and south Wales coastlines. Sir Jack’s gift is a legacy that will live on for many future generations to enjoy this unique and very special place.”

Lundy Island is owned by the National Trust and managed by the Landmark Trust. In 1986 it became the first official Marine Nature Area in England.

The six scones of Christmas

One of the nation’s favourite tea-time treats has been given a Christmas makeover by a National Trust chef who has devised six festive scones to compete with the traditional mince pie.

The traditional Christmas dinner in scones. Credit Robert Conwell.

The traditional Christmas dinner in scones. Credit Robert Conwell.

Continue reading