National Trust chair accused of patronising and insensitive behaviour

first_imgTim Parker said the organisation had been repeatedly misconstruedCredit:Neil Holmes/Getty Images Mr Parker’s email also hailed the year as a success, pointing out how it had attracted a “historically high” number of members and 24.5 million visiting properties in 2017.A spokesman for the Trust said: “Tim used his new year message to personally thank all the Trust’s staff and volunteers for making 2017 an outstanding success after reaching our highest ever membership and visitor numbers.“As part of his look back, he also refers to some of the challenges we faced, including receiving some critical coverage over August, which is commonly known as the silly season. He does not say the Felbrigg issue in itself was silly or dismiss it in any way.” Volunteers had refused to wear a National Trust rainbow coloured lanyard “His comments show a complete lack of sensitivity and we are surprised that someone did not advise him against some of the language used.“The National Trust relies on its staff and considerable support of volunteers and this is certainly not the way to endear the organisation to them.” Eventually trust bosses climbed down allowing volunteers to choose whether or not to wear the lanyards after volunteers complained the organisation was straying beyond its role as protector of sites of historic interest and natural beauty. Volunteers had refused to wear a National Trust rainbow coloured lanyardcenter_img Tim Parker said the organisation had been repeatedly misconstrued Mr Parker wrote: “As I have said before, however, our actions were misconstrued. We believe we have done things with the best of intentions, even though this does not always please everyone. The Trust will always encompass a wide variety of views, and issues will crop up from time to time that involve quite intense debate.”However, “concerned” volunteers last night wrote to The Sunday Telegraph complaining that Mr Parker had misjudged the mood of many of its 60,000 volunteers contributing more than 3 million hours of their time each year.“Volunteers and many visitors certainly did not think it was a case of ‘silly season’ or ‘goofy stories’ or that the Trust’s actions were misconstrued,” the letter, signed ‘some National Trust volunteers’, says.“The chairman’s rather patronising comments belittle the very real concerns and objections that volunteers at Felbrigg had about the way the Trust had ‘outed’ the former owner of the property to further its LGBTQ agenda. Then it ‘punished’ volunteers by banning them from frontline volunteering in the property. The chairman of the National Trust has been accused of “patronising and insensitive” behaviour after writing to volunteers to condemn “goofy” claims the organisation was becoming painfully politically correct.Tim Parker, the 62-year-old trust chairman, said the organisation had been repeatedly “misconstrued” as part of a “silly season” in which it became embroiled in rows about how it treated sexuality, faith and the thousands of volunteers it relies upon.In an internal email to staff and volunteers he explained how a “string of stories” had been taken out of context. He criticised as “goofy” newspaper and television reports about how Dame Helen Ghosh, the former director general of the trust, was accused of “airbrushing faith” after removing the word ‘Easter’ from a traditional egg hunt amid fears it could alienate non-Christians.His end of year review email also listed other controversies the Trust triggered, including its decision to “out” as homosexual the late Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer who owned Felbrigg Hall, a move that upset many volunteers at the Norfolk property who were unconvinced he was in fact gay.Mr Parker also referred to how volunteers at that property who refused to wear a National Trust rainbow coloured lanyard to celebrate 50 years since homosexuality was decriminalised would be banned from meeting and greeting the public. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more