Interview With National Trust

Nearly everyone will have had a trip to a National Trust house or garden when they grew up. But do you still go? Chances are, with recent news that they have reached 4 million members, you have been, or you at least know a member.

With over 300 historic houses, 250,000 hectares of land and 700 miles of coastline to tend to, the National  Trust are now planning on making this membership grow even more, with

more than 90 million people visiting the National Trust each year – 17 million to houses and gardens and around 75 million to coast and countryside, there is definitely a scope for more.

I spoke to Stephen Field at the National Trust about the news and how it has reached this epic number.

Sheffield Park, East Sussex by Geoff Caddick

Hi Stephen. Congratulations on making a 4 millionth member! What do you think is the reason for the steady increase?

We put it down to a few things really, firstly the tough climate with the recession means people are looking to do less expensive things and are keen to spend time with their families. We offer ‘simple pleasures’ really. The other thing is that we understand value for money and we offer good value for your membership fee, you only need to come a few times for it to be worth it. And the third would be that perhaps people are more aware of what we offer, that it’s not just stately homes, (although we get 17 million visits per year to them) and that we have areas all over the UK, with plenty of weird and wonderful places, beaches, gardens…coast sides.

 

Just who is making up this membership, is it young, old, families?

There is the stereotypical image of the pensioner, and they are indeed an important and valued part of our membership, but we also have a large amount of families as part of our membership, at least 55%. We are also hoping that this will grow with our future plans which are basically to ‘bring places to life’- so to avoid the idea of staid trips where things are roped off and where you can’t touch anything, we want to get people involved, whatever is appropriate for the place really, so things like apple pressing to make cider… There are plenty of options.

What about volunteers?  Are you still looking for help?

Always! Especially green volunteers for our outdoor areas. We have around 60,000 volunteers and they are crucial in what we do. The more volunteers, the more land we can open up to the public so it’s really important.  We are flexible too, so after an initial interview you could find yourself working as a costumed guide, a gardener, in recruitment, so it’s a great way if you can’t find work to keep your hand in as well in these harder times of the economic downturn.

What are your plans for the future?

We definitely want to expand our outdoor spaces with care so that they are even more accessible, and I can’t tell you much, but we are planning a scheme that will help people reconnect with nature, so promoting the outdoors and beauty spots in a special way…But I can’t tell you more than that, you just have to wait!

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