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The National Trust has Sir John Winnifrith spinning in his grave yet again

Tom Winnifrith
Thursday 14 September 2017

My late grandfather was, inter alia, Director General of the National Trust after his retirement from the Civil Service. He saw its mission as very simple: to preserve fine old buildings and outstanding areas of countryside. For the Trust nothing else mattered and that single mission is why so many of us have supported it over the years. These days the NT has my grandfather spinning in his grave about once a week.

It is not that he would have had a massive problem with the Trust's obsession with LGBT issues, climate change and other non core issues. I suspect that he would have been a global warming sceptic and whilst he might just have supported equal rights for gays it would have been in a quiet passive way not in an aggressive in your face way.

But what he - and so many of us who have historically supported the National Trust - would object to is how money is spent on these non core areas as great old houses are allowed to rot, including the one the Trust let him live in during retirement, as I described here. This matter is simple. If I want to support gay rights I will donate to Stonewall or the most excellent Peter Tatchell Foundation safe in the knowledge that my cash will not go to preserve fine old houses. If I want to save the houses I give to the Trust. Oddly Tatch and Stonewall understand that but the Trust does not as it opts to spend my cash elsewhere.

This week the Trust launched a new "voluntary" survey of its volunteers asking them to reveal their 'gender identity', giving them the choice of 'male, female, trans, non-binary or intersex. It then asked them: 'Is your gender identity the same as the gender you were assigned at birth?' It also asked them to identify whether they are gay, bisexual, lesbian or straight?

Who gives a damn? Yet the Trust spends time and money on this claiming it has not got the resources to do the job it is meant to be there for. Sir John spins in his, now well worn, grave yet again. More folks who were donating or leaving legacies quietly change their minds. Like the RSPCA before it, the Trust increasingly echoes the concerns of a metropolitan elite while forgetting what it was meant to and what it once did so well making it, in the past, so well regarded.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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