2015/16 was a successful year for the National Trust.
We met key financial targets and continued to invest significantly in conservation and visitor facilities.
This follows the pattern of recent years but what makes 2015/16 stand out is the clarity provided by the Trust’s long-term strategy, Playing our part, agreed by the Board in 2015. It has galvanised staff, volunteers and supporters in addressing the conservation challenges of today as part of our enduring purpose of looking after special places for everyone.
Despite the successes of the year, 2015/16 began badly with the fire at Clandon Park. Staff, volunteers and the emergency services responded magnificently. While the cause of the fire could not have been foreseen, we have learned everything we can from this disaster. We are delighted with our plans for the future of Clandon which mark the beginning of a new chapter in the property’s history.
Playing our part demands increased investment in our properties to eradicate our backlog of repairs over a number of years. This programme of investment continued in 2015/16. Other investments are being guided by the main themes in the strategy: restoring our natural environment, offering property experiences that move, teach and inspire and helping look after places where people live. During the year we undertook a major assessment of the state of all the land in our care. We will use this along with information derived from our Conservation Performance Indicator (our standard measure of conservation performance) to prioritise future conservation investments.
The A Country House at War exhibition at Upton House opened this year and is just one example of our ambition to provide inspiring visits.
The Warwickshire house is restored to its Second World War state when the owners, the Bearsted family, moved its merchant bank to the property to protect staff and assets from air raids. Grand rooms are used as typing pools or accommodation for office staff providing an experience where visitors learn about a very different use of a country house.
More such programmes are planned, exploring different facets of our places – both the indoors and outdoors.
As part of our strategy we will also continue to develop the link between people and place. During 2015/16 we participated in the Heritage Open Days programme which saw hundreds of new places opening up to the public. We are exploring new ways in which we can help people to engage with the places that are important to them.
The flooding over the 2015/16 winter in the Lake District and other areas demonstrated again that nature does not respect artificial boundaries. The response helped forge stronger links with our partners. We must continue to work together to address the land management issues necessary to mitigate the challenges of a changing climate. We must also do more to meet our energy reduction targets. Increased visitor numbers and longer opening hours make this a challenge but we remain determined to deliver on our plans.
The Trust ends the year in very good health. Our finances are strong, our ambition is clear and our staff and volunteers are focused on its delivery. We thank those staff and volunteers together with our members, supporters and donors whose commitment enables the National Trust to do the things it does.
Playing our part demands increased investment in our properties to eradicate our backlog of repairs over a
number of years