National Trust Boss Says She Has Received Death Threats Amid ‘Awake’ Row | The national trust

The National Trust director said she received anonymous death threats during a “crop war” dispute over the organization’s perceived “watch”.

Hilary McGrady, director general of the NT, said she did not report the bullying to the police because “it comes with the territory”.

The dispute was sparked by the NT’s efforts to learn more about the history of its properties, including a report released last year that found links between 93 of its historic places and colonialism and slavery.

Criticism of what some saw as a politicized attack on heritage has spread to social media and the press. McGrady said the academic author of the report “had a lot more trouble” than she did.

More recently, a group called the Restore Trust sought to win seats on the NT board at its annual general meeting in October. The group claimed to represent grassroots opposition to what it called the NT’s “awakened” agenda, and said it wanted to restore confidence “to its primary purpose of caring for our heritage and our campaign ”.

Three of Restore Trust’s candidates were elected to the 36-seat board, although one denied that he shared the group’s concerns.

McGrady said she suspects Restore Trust will continue its campaign despite failing to meet its goal of six board members.

“I would like to engage with them honestly and openly. What is not useful is a war of words. I’m really ready to have these conversations… I have to accept that I can’t lead an organization of this size and not take on these challenges. It comes with the territory and I’m pretty optimistic about it, ”she said.

Some members and visitors had been “really angry and angry with us” about the issues raised by Restore Trust, she said. “There were also some people who were really excited and relieved that we were finally watching the story they want to learn.”

Hilary McGrady. Photograph: Rex / Shutterstock

McGrady said the past two years have been tough for the NT but there was “a sense of being able to draw a line” despite concerns over the Omicron variant of Covid.

There has been a “huge jump” in membership over the past few months, she said. The NT was on the verge of reaching 6 million members when the pandemic struck. “We’ve lost a lot of people for all kinds of reasons – financial worries or just knowing they couldn’t use their membership – but I think we’ll be down to 6 million this coming year,” she said. .

The trust has ambitious plans for 2022, including picnics, parties, beacon lighting and tree planting to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, as well as an exhibit on Beatrix Potter in collaboration with the V&A in London.

He also set a goal of being net zero by 2030. “As a very important landowner, we have a huge role to play in tackling climate damage,” McGrady said. The trust aims to convert 10% of its 250,000 hectares of land to “rich in nature”, and is planting 20 million trees this decade.

The NT plans to build on the work after the report published last year detailing the links between 93 of its properties and colonialism and historic slavery.

“Every day we discover a different piece of history. We have an obligation to tell this huge, complex and multidimensional story of the history of the three countries for which we are responsible. The idea that the story stops is nonsense because you keep finding new things.

McGrady said the 2020 report was “first-step research. The next step is, property by property, to [ask if] we need to do more research. And how could we fit that into the story so that we have the whole story of the place? It will take a long time, to be honest.

She insisted, “No one is forcing this down your throat. No one is trying to get you to read that stuff. There is no sense that we are trying to preach, and certainly, certainly, not to judge. We try to provide layers of information; we don’t take anything away. We add to the complexity of the information available. But if [people] want to come for a walk in the garden and have a good cup of tea, I am delighted. Why would I be prescriptive about how people should engage with the National Trust? “

When McGrady was appointed head of the NT in 2018, she wanted to make it a “really accessible” organization, she said. “It certainly wasn’t an organization that necessarily feels for everyone, and it still doesn’t. My mission was to break down any barrier that might prevent anyone from feeling that trust is there for them. “

This included practical measures such as wheelchair access and audio loops, and ensuring that NT staff reflect “the UK as it is”.

She said the demographics of its members are changing relative to the perception of white, middle class and middle aged people, but “it’s not as diverse as I would like it to be. And I’m as interested in the socio-economic divide as I am BAME and people with disabilities.

The organization’s strategy was to mirror the communities it serves, but the South West community was very different from the Birmingham community, she said. “I’m very aware that across the country there are different communities that want different things from the trust. This is what I really focus on. How do we make ourselves accessible to people who want to engage with us? But what a long way to go, and I am the first to admit it. “