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.

2019 Election to the National Trust's Council

  • We’re looking for inspiring people to help look after our inspiring places for future generations. The National Trust Council is a great opportunity to have your say and ensure we deliver everything we need to. Our Council members help make important decisions, inform strategy and keep us connected to our members and the wider public. Their energy, enthusiasm and experience are invaluable to us. These volunteers make a real difference. And so could you.

    About the Council

    The Council plays an important role in how the National Trust is governed. Its main responsibilities are to appoint Trustees and to monitor and support their work. Council members meet three times a year to debate key strategic issues and advise the Board of Trustees. They also use their networks to inspire support for the Trust among members and the wider public.

    The Council’s strength comes from the breadth of knowledge of its members. It has 36 members – an even balance of elected and appointed people, all of whom are volunteers. The elected members are directly chosen by members of the National Trust. The appointed members come from organisations (chosen by our members every six years) which have a connection to the Trust’s work.

    Whether you’re a CEO, civil engineer or community volunteer, your input could help us look after inspiring places for future generations. Now’s your chance to make a real difference. Put yourself forward today. You don’t need to be a member to apply, but we would ask you to join before the election.

    Time commitment

    Council members will be elected from October 2019 for three years and can expect to spend about ten days a year on Council business. There are three Council meetings a year, including one which is held as part of a three-day visit hosted by one of our regions or countries. The time commitment is spread across these activities and includes time for reading and any other preparation needed to fully engage with Council business.

    The dates of Council meetings in the twelve months following the election are as follows (note these are provisional at February 2019):

    • Wednesday 12 February 2020 (London)
    • Wednesday 17 to Friday 19 June 2020 (Northern Ireland)
    • Wednesday 7 October 2019 (Swindon)

    Council members usually serve a maximum of three three-year terms, subject to re-appointment or re-election. Some of our Council members go on to become Trustees.

    Council membership is a voluntary role. Expenses are reimbursed.

    Additional Information

    • Read more about our Council’s role here and a few of its current members on our website.
    • You can read more about the specific responsibilities of the Council in section 1.13 of the Governance Handbook.

    About you

    We welcome applications for election from people of all ages, ethnicity and backgrounds, and from all areas, who can contribute to our work. You should be able to demonstrate a broad range of the qualities and experience we’re looking for – you can find out more about these here. Experience in urban and community-led conservation or knowledge of accessibility issues, would be a plus. Notwithstanding these arrangements, all members who wish to stand for election are entitled to do so.

    The Council’s Nominations Committee, which oversees the election, is keen to receive applications from volunteers and non-members as well as members. In order to be eligible to stand for election to the Council our constitution requires that candidates are members of the National Trust. Membership would need to be taken up by early May 2019 to go forward to the election.

    Please read and note our Code of Conduct which applies to all governance volunteers.

    About the election

    This year we are expecting to fill six election vacancies for a three-year term starting in October 2019. Anyone who thinks they meet the criteria described above and is able to contribute to the Council is welcome to apply. Standing for election involves making an application to our Nominations Committee and having your candidacy published to our members in the autumn.

    The members of the Nominations Committee are Anne Casement (Chair), James Bigwood, Steve Anderson and Peter Bate. They are required to make a recommendation to our members about who they believe will make the most suitable members of the Council. While not all candidates will be recommended, the details of everyone who wishes to stand and who is eligible will go forward to the election. Any current members of the Council who are standing for re-election should note that attendance records for meetings will be published.

    The election is determined by a members’ ballot in the autumn and the results are announced at the Annual General Meeting in Swindon on 19 October 2019.

    How to apply and closing date

    If you would like to stand for election, please send us the following:

    • A statement or covering letter which you can use to explain anything that you think might be helpful to the Nominations Committee that is not included elsewhere in your application
    • A CV (maximum length two sides of A4, minimum 12 point font);
    • A completed candidate information form which includes your election statements and supporting details (including an optional extended statement for publication online only);
    • A completed declaration and affirmation form;
    • A completed Equal Opportunities form (optional).

    The required forms can be found below.

    Please ensure your application reaches us by 5.00pm on 27 March 2019.

    Next steps

    The Nominations Committee will meet in April to review applications and will invite those candidates who most closely fit this year’s election criteria to meet the Committee. You can expect to hear from us about progress with your application towards the end of April.

    The Committee will then meet invited candidates in May at one of our offices or properties. All candidates can expect to hear before the end of May about whether they are to be recommended to our members. The Nominations Committee aims to match its recommendations to the number of vacancies which are expected this year.

    Please note that the election statements of all eligible candidates, whether or not they are invited to attend an interview with the Nominations Committee, will go forward for publication to our members. Anyone wishing to withdraw from the election process should notify us by the end of May 2019.

    Election information is sent to all our members as part of the Annual General Meeting information which is mailed out from the beginning of September 2019 when voting opens. The election results will be announced at the AGM on Saturday 19 October 2019 in Swindon.

    Elected members will be invited to attend an induction day in November/December 2019 in London.

    Contact us

    You can contact us and send your application to:

    Jo Cooke
    Deputy Secretary
    National Trust
    Heelis
    Kemble Drive
    Swindon
    SN2 2NA

    Email: governance@nationaltrust.org.uk
    Telephone: 01793 817663

    Thank you for your interest – we look forward to hearing from you.


    Candidate information form

    Declaration and affirmation form

    Equal opportunities form