Governance

How is the National Trust run? Who makes the fundamental decisions that shape our future? As an influential volunteer, it could be you.

A charity, a conservation body, a curator of beautiful places and spaces – and so much more. We’re also a major commercial enterprise, a retailer, a restaurant chain, a visitor attraction. There is no other organisation in the UK like the National Trust. And it’s that exceptional breadth of opportunity and challenge that makes working with us so incredibly stimulating.

Working with us in a non-executive capacity is a wonderfully rewarding experience: it’s an opportunity to have a real say in our current and future operations. In return for your time, knowledge and expertise, you’ll have the chance to shape our work as you help to grow the nation’s love of special places.

Whatever your area of interest, you’ll find a range of appealing non-executive opportunities here. The places we look after are varied and for everyone – we’re keen to reflect this in our governance community. We welcome applications from people of all ages, areas and backgrounds who can positively contribute to our work. The details of our appointment or election processes are clearly outlined in each vacancy.

A summary of how our governance structure works is available here.

The principles underlying our non-executive appointments

We recognise that one of the most important means by which openness, transparency and accountability can be achieved is through the appointment or election, as appropriate, of high-calibre volunteers capable of overseeing the governance arrangements of the Trust, ensuring that it remains focused on achieving its mission efficiently and effectively.

The Board of Trustees and the various Nominations Committees of the Council play a key role in the process of non-executive appointments and elections. An external member sits on each of these Nominations Committees to increase the rigour of our procedures.

Before an appointment or election process is initiated for any of the bodies in the governance structure, the relevant committee will take into account:

  • the aims and purposes of the body concerned
  • the knowledge, skills and experience required for the position in question
  • the intention to create a diverse and effective body
  • the intention to meet standards of good governance
  • the intention to avoid conflicts of interest.

These aims will be pursued in a manner proportionate to the nature of the positions to be filled.

The Committees will ensure that appointment and election processes are:

  • conducted in an open and transparent way
  • applied in a fair, equitable, objective and impartial manner
  • designed to be thorough, robust and expeditious
  • applied consistently
  • fully explained and readily comprehensible.

Typical governance opportunities

Trustee

Our Board of Trustees is the National Trust’s governing body. In many ways, they’re our guardians, our conscience. Their role is to ensure that we have a clear vision and a strategy in place, and that we’re doing everything we say we’ll do. 

Council Member

Providing guidance and perspective, appointing our Trustees and ultimately holding the Board of Trustees to account, the Council is the guardian of our spirit and long-term objectives. 

Committee Member

Our Audit, Investment and Senior Management Remuneration Committees provide oversight and assurance in their specialist areas and report into our Board of Trustees.

Other types of non-executive opportunities

Member of a Regional/Country Advisory Board

With a real passion for your region, you’ll advise, support and challenge Regional/Country Directors and their teams to help them deliver the Trust’s strategy in their area.

Member of an Advisory Group

With your specialist perspective, and skills and knowledge which complement that of our staff, you’ll provide advice to assist in developing and delivering the Trust’s strategy in one of the following areas: Historic Environment; Natural Environment; Collections and Interpretation; Commercial.

Meet our volunteers

  • Volunteer Margaret

    Elizabeth Hamilton

    appointed Council member

    Originally a plant ecologist and woodland management specialist, I’ve worked and volunteered in countryside protection and conservation for a variety of organisations since 1977. I have supported and admired the Trust’s work for many years and enjoy exploring coast and countryside properties as well as the Trust’s houses and gardens. With governance experience as a county branch chairman and national board trustee for the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), I was delighted to be asked to become CPRE’s appointee on the Trust’s Council. It has been fantastic to meet many people involved with the Trust and have a role in guiding the organisation. The Trust is concerned with such a wide range of issues that every Council member has something to contribute, so it’s been a learning experience for me too.

  • Volunteer Margaret

    Sanya Sheikh

    elected Council member

    Working in the digital technology sector I am acutely aware of how important it is to stay connected. My support for the National Trust stems from my belief that there is no more important connection than the one we have with nature. The Trust undertakes an incredible breadth of work, much of which I would not have known about prior to joining the council. For those interested in a voluntary governance role, the council offers a fascinating and rewarding insight into the Trust, as well as the opportunity to be able to help guide it towards a more successful future. As a Council member I have been impressed by the passion and expertise of my colleagues and believe a further diversity of voices would only benefit the organisation as a whole.

  • Volunteer Margaret

    Justin Atkinson

    member of the Audit Committee

    I sit on a number of boards including one as an Audit Chairman, so hopefully I bring a current, external perspective to this role. The Trust is a large organisation with annual revenues of more than £500m and has the responsibility of looking after several billion pounds worth of heritage assets. Therefore, it is very important that the governance function ensures that the financial reporting processes and internal controls framework are robust. I am pleased to be able to play my part in this and to work alongside high calibre people who work with such dedication, enthusiasm and commitment.

  • Volunteer Margaret

    Bob Brown

    Chair of Northern Ireland’s Regional Advisory Board

    I worked for the National Trust on Strangford Lough in my earlier years, and my career as a marine biologist and general nature conservation has kept me involved with the Northern Ireland team ever since – after all, we do have about 22% of Northern Ireland’s remarkable coast! But my enthusiasm for the Trust is much broader than that. Some of the most iconic landscape and cultural features, landscapes, gardens, historic houses, are in our care and they’re vital to a community still trying to find itself after years of conflict. I was delighted to be offered a place on the Regional Advisory Board – we have a central role to play in advising the team on the challenges this presents, horizon scanning for issues, providing local feedback. Later, to be appointed as Chair, gave me even greater insight into the dedication and skill of our staff and volunteers and how the whole system fits together. There’s no organisation like the National Trust in the world, and it’s a real privilege to be a small, but hopefully useful, part of it.

  • Volunteer Margaret

    Michael Walker

    member of the Historic Environment Group

    I work for St Modwen, a leading regeneration specialist which owns the 725 acre Trentham Estate in Staffordshire. The challenges and opportunities we face at Trentham are little different to those experienced by the National Trust. I believe in using the significance of the past to help support the revival of gardens and landscape in contemporary ways which are relevant to their audience today. The Trust cares for truly amazing places with an extremely experienced and professional people. The Historic Environment Group is invited to look at a diverse range of issues which includes gardens and landscape, as well as offering specialist advice to the teams on the ground. We are here to support the Trust but I often feel that we gain as much out of the time we contribute in terms of our own learning and CPD as the Trust receives from us in return.

Current governance opportunities

Here you’ll find information on current and future senior governance opportunities.

Please remember, we welcome applications from people of all ages, areas and backgrounds who can positively contribute to our work. If you don’t find the role you are searching for today, we'd still love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact us.

London & South East Regional Advisory Board

  • The National Trust has over 4½ million members and over 60,000 volunteers. Around 20 million people visit our pay for entry properties, while an estimated 50 million visit our open air properties.

    We protect and open to the public over 350 historic houses, gardens and ancient monuments.

    We also look after forests, woods, fens, beaches, farmland, downs, moorland, islands, archaeological remains, castles, nature reserves, villages … for ever, for everyone.

    We are a charity and completely independent of Government. We rely on income from membership fees, donations and legacies, and revenue raised from our commercial operations.

    We are a big business: 5,000 employees; 60,000 volunteers; annual catering sales of £50m; retail sales of £37m; and over £60m invested in conservation projects. We have recently published a new national strategy.

    The Trust’s strategic vision for the next 10 years is focussed on how we can do more to look after the special places in our care and continue to engage our existing and new supporters with our cause.

    In the London & South East region, we have so many special places. The region covers London and the counties of Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Surrey, West Sussex, East Sussex and Kent. From coastline to countryside, mansion houses to suburban and city community havens, we’ve got real diversity and variety here. Many of the Trust’s most visited properties and those which generate the most income to plough back into conservation are in London and the South East. A map of the region showing our properties is attached (annex A).

    The London & South East Regional Advisory Board has up to ten members. It advises, supports and challenges the Regional Director and her team to help them deliver the Trust’s strategy in the region.

    It does this by:

    • advising on how the Trust’s national strategy should be implemented in the region and offering constructive support and challenge to the Regional Director and her team in the delivery of regional business plans;
    • Contributing to debates on major issues affecting the future success of the region;
    • Supporting the Regional Director to establish and develop a presence in the region by acting as an ambassador for the Trust externally, opening doors and making introductions with key contacts and stakeholders;
    • Bringing knowledge of the region, its people and their needs to the Trust;
    • Where possible, providing support on projects and other challenges as requested by staff, outside of the Board meetings.

    Ways of working

    We currently have two formal meetings and two informal meetings a year.

    Much of Board members’ involvement happens outside meetings through the provision of advice to staff on projects, other initiatives and regional contacts/networks.

    Each formal meeting explores a particular topic (or topics) of relevance to the delivery of the regional business plans, as agreed with the Regional Director.

    Administration is light-touch, in keeping with our purely advisory role. Beyond meeting agendas and brief outcome notes of each meeting, papers are kept to a minimum.

    Each year the Board Chair provides a written report for the Board of Trustees highlighting key issues or concerns in their region. Regional Advisory Board Chairs meet twice a year with the Trust Chairman and Director-General to discuss issues of common concern.

    The commitment

    Board members are among the Trust’s 60,000 volunteers. Reasonable expenses incurred on Trust business are reimbursed. The Board meets four times each year during the day on weekdays. On each occasion we meet at a property to give advice on management and development issues following a tour of the property. In the case of the two formal meetings – generally in June and December – we go on to consider one or two major policy matters in committee. Taking into account travel, these are all day meetings. Our practice has been to have an early dinner together after the December meeting. The alternative informal meetings – generally held in March and September - involve advising on management and development issues at a property, although there is an opportunity for a general catch up over lunch. These could therefore be described as half day meetings, although that will depend on how far you have to travel to the property.

    We have an online discussion group where we share views and keep up to date on Trust business. It can also be used to give advice to officers or deal with straightforward decisions.

    Members are encouraged to sit on Project Boards where their skills and experience match the needs of the Executive. Project Boards are set up to manage major investment (such as at Knole) or programmes of work (such as our London programme or our activities to improve the management and attraction of our countryside properties). The input is much appreciated by staff and they give members a valuable chance to get closer to practical action, although it is not expected that every member will be able to commit the time needed for this role.

    Sub-groups of 2-3 members are occasionally used to give one-off advice on specific projects such as a proposed acquisition.

    We hope that this method of working is flexible enough to attract a wide range of members from the ranks of the retired, semi-retired, self-employed and employed.

    Who are the members?

    Current members bring a wide range of experience to the Board – land and building management, finance, running leisure and heritage attractions, local and central government, planning policy, research, retail – gained in the commercial, public and charitable sectors. Brief details of the current members are attached as annex B.

    Two members complete their terms of office in November 2017 so one of the early tasks of the new Chair, working with the Regional Director, will be to recruit two new members.

    Why become a member?

    There are probably as many reasons as there are Board members. But here’s a suggestion:

    • You will be able to make a contribution towards protecting some of the country’s finest buildings and landscapes, and helping people to enjoy them;
    • You will gain or develop your experience of playing a non-executive but influential role in a large, complex organisation which has all the characteristics of a commercial company, a campaigning charity and a public body rolled into one;
    • You will enjoy debating issues and problem solving with a diverse group of committed enthusiasts: your fellow Board members, Trust officers and other volunteers.

    This recruitment

    We are looking for a Chair to be appointed from 1 January 2018. We hope that our successful candidate will be able to join our meeting on 11 December in London.

    The reason for this relaxed timescale is to ensure that we have had time to make the vacancies known to a wide audience.

    As Chair you will work closely with the Regional Director who really values a constructively supportive and challenging working relationship. You will also clearly provide leadership to the Regional Advisory Board.

    We are looking for a Chair who:

    • has a passion for the South East, and knows and appreciates the region and its progressive, innovative, dynamic and diverse character;
    • is networked, and can help to develop new and existing partnerships and collaborations regionally, helping to open doors, working alongside the Regional Director to influence others;
    • will push and challenge the Regional Director and her team, encouraging them to find bold, creative and pragmatic solutions , supporting them to make the right decisions;
    • can act as a sounding board for the Regional Director personally, enabling her to explore ideas and think through tricky issues facing the region;
    • will help get the best out of our Regional Advisory Board as individual members and a collective group.

    Appointments are made for three years and members may be reappointed once ie. for a maximum of six years. All members are expected to share and demonstrate the Trust’s Values and Behaviours (annex C).

    There is a concentration of current Board members in London and the counties South and East of London. We would thus be especially pleased to find new members in Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire & the Isle of Wight. However it is a large region and with only ten members an even geographical spread must be considered “nice to have” rather than a requirement.

    Diversity

    There is currently a good gender balance on the Board and a reasonable balance of age and retired/semi- retired/employed. Within the limits imposed by a ten person Board we will try to maintain that position.

    London and the South East rightly has the reputation of being one of the most prosperous regions in Europe. But aggregate figures hide huge disparities. Much of the business of the Trust revolves around how best to respond to the pressures and opportunities of prosperity and the expectations that raises. But we also make a conscious effort to work for the benefit of the poor and those without the means to visit or the interest in being “moved, taught and inspired” by our showcase properties. We welcome applications from people from different cultural backgrounds (inc. black and ethnic minority) and people who can bring to the Board experience of working with people of diverse cultural backgrounds.

    Application

    If you are interested, please send a CV and covering letter to the Secretary of the Board: Michaela.Hall@nationaltrust.org.uk

    Whilst e-mail is our preferred method of working, our postal address is: Michaela Hall, National Trust, 4 Warren Farm Barns, Andover Road, Micheldever Station, Winchester, Hampshire, SO21 3FL.

    Please make clear in the covering letter what you expect to bring to the work of the Board, based on the contents of this note.

    Timetable

    Sunday 24 September 2017 - Closing Date of Applications

    Monday 10 October 2017 - Initial Interviews (held in London, SW1)

    Monday 11 December 2017 - First Board Meeting

    Tuesday 12 December 2017 - Governance Induction Day (Swindon)

    Further information

    There is a wealth of general information about our work on the Trust’s main web site: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/. You will also find further information about Governance volunteering by typing “Governance” in the search function in the top right of the website screen.

    You may wish to talk the role over with our current Chair who would be very pleased to talk it over either on the phone or over a coffee.

    David Coleman
    Chair of the London & South East Regional Advisory Board
    david.coleman@cantab.net
    07976 535477

    Annex A - Map of Region
    Annex B - Current RAB Members
    Annex C - Values & Behaviours