The Fiona Factor

Last week the Midlands Region hosted a very special event in honour of our Director General, Fiona Reynolds. Volunteer, Emily tells us all about it…

As I’m sure you are all aware, Fiona Reynolds will be leaving the National Trust after 11 years as Director-General, and the Midlands region decided to say farewell with a lunch hosted by Calke Abbey.

I was lucky enough to be invited to represent Charlecote along with Stephen (Property manager) and Lauren (Retail Manager) and it was a fantastic afternoon.

The sun was shining (which was a welcome surprise!) and the food was really delicious…especially the home made victoria sponge (but you can always count on the Trust to do great cake!)

The Riding School, Calke. A great place for a celebration!

The lunch and afternoon tea were held in the Riding School and the venue was really delightful, the volunteers at Calke had handmade their own bunting which brightened the space, and the garden team had put together some lovely flowers as a backdrop to the speeches.

It was a fantastic opportunity for me to meet people from across the regions and for Stephen and Lauren to catch up with old friends and colleagues.

Beccy (Regional Director) presenting Fiona with gifts!

The speeches highlighted how much Fiona means to the Trust and the impact she has had on the organisation as a whole. There were no thoughtless presents as each gift came accompanied with a little anecdote. An apple tree was one such gift, along with the story of MP Margaret Hodge trying to plant a tree for the Trust wearing white high heeled shoes. In contrast Fiona has always been prepared to get stuck in, even cleaning tables at Snowshill during one event years ago!

The emotional support she offered was clear, Rebecca Speight (Director for the Midlands), spoke about how inspirational it was to see a woman leading the organisation and how much the Trust had changed. 10-15 years ago she was the only woman surrounded by a table of men…all wearing tweed.

When it came to Fiona’s speech she said the National Trust she is leaving is a very loving organisation and has become about ‘people’ and not just ‘things’.

She said her only regret was taking the job on too young, which means although she is not ready to retire, after eleven years and great successes, she will leave the National Trust on a high.

It was then time for a walk around the Calke grounds, the beautiful bluebell woodland looked vibrant after all the rain, and we spied some deer in one of the fields (not as brave as the Charelcote deer!). Fiona was there in her wellies and raincoat holding open the gates and making sure she spoke to everyone, this is why she was a great leader for the Trust and why she will be greatly missed. 

Emily Stone, Room Guide & Conservation Volunteer

And just for fun – 10 points to the  first person to spot the Property manager!

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