As she criticized the ‘war on woken’ campaign of disgruntled rebels, a senior figure at National Trust called on staff to vote for their bosses at a meeting of members.
The charity is currently in a dispute with Restore Trust (RT), a splinter group whose members are furious at the way certain properties of its have been ‘blacklisted,’ citing alleged links to slavery and colonialism.
There was also uproar in 2017 when stately home volunteers in Norfolk were ordered to wear gay pride badges, before the National Trust reversed the policy in the face of quit threats from helpers.
More than 6,000 current and former members including Tory MPs have thrown their weight behind the RT splinter group, with more than £40,000 raised in a ‘fighting fund’ to help battle ‘anti-woke’ policies and as a forum ‘discuss concerns about the future of the charity’.
Restore Trust has backed six candidates to fill the Trust’s 36-seat governance council. Members can vote for them today, as well other issues such as the treatment for volunteers.
Celia Richardson is the Trust’s director for communications. She wrote to staff to urge them against what she called “organised campaigners” who she claimed have ‘their sights set upon our AGM and the papers describing it as a war on woke’.
Former staff members told The Telegraph that the vote request was a break with convention and that in previous meetings staff were told to give up their membership and abstain.
Staff were also believed to have been urged to vote by Hilary McGrady, the Trust’s director general, and Orna NiChionna interim chairman.
Restore Trust responded to her internal letter by saying that it was ‘clearly inappropriate’ for the charity’s staff to put them ‘under pressure’. They also stated that they are trying ‘protect their cosy fiefdom’ and ignore the deafening sounds of discontent.
A senior National Trust figure has called on staff members to vote in support for bosses at a meeting of members. She made the call as she criticized a war on woke’ campaign by disgruntled rebels. Above: Winston Churchill’s Chartwell home in Kent. It was embroiled with controversy after the NT blacklisted’ the property in 2020.
Ms Richardson also encouraged staff to encourage all members to vote and sent an email reminder to employees last week on the day that online voting was closed. This email was sent ahead of the meeting.
A senior staff member recently tweeted that the so-called “war on wokeness” is a serious problem. The Trust unites millions and has served the nation for 126 year.
“Organised ideological campaigns can cause real damage.”
Celia Richardson, director of communications for the Trust, wrote to staff
The Trust said that reminders to vote were a matter “good practice” and that there was no pressure to vote. MailOnline reached out to the charity for comment.
The Trust had suggested earlier this month that it was being used by RT and its supporters as a punchbag’. They accused them of waging an ’ideological campaign’ against it.
In a statement, they stated that national institutions require healthy and respectful debate to survive and continue to serve future generations as they have done for so many people in the past and present. They should not be used to divide people or lead by extreme views.
“Our founders set out with the goal of protecting and promoting places of historical interest and natural beauty for our nation’s benefit.
“That means that we are for everyone.” No matter if you’re black, white, straight, gay, right-wing, or left-wing.
RT was founded in anger over a sensational 115-page National Trust report that ‘blacklisted 93 estates’ for alleged links with slavery. Chartwell, Kent, is the home of Sir Winston Churchill.
The charity is currently in a dispute with a splinter group called Restore Trust, whose members are furious at the way certain properties of its trust have been ‘blacklisted.’ This is due to alleged links between colonialism and slavery. Above: A staff member of the Trust’s Petworth House in Jul last year
Among the six council candidates backed by RT for election is Stephen Green, the head of a Christian fundamentalist lobbying group, who accuses the National Trust of being overly concerned with ‘LGBQT+ issues’, reports The Guardian.
Green, who claims he has no connection to RT, stated that if elected he would ensure future donors feel safe from the Trust poring into their pasts and inventing salacious details about an imagined private life.
Sir John Hayes, head Conservative Party’s Common Sense Group and Neil Bennett, who oversees RT’s ever-growing donor list, support the splinter group.
RT has been supported by an increasing number of MPs, campaigners, and National Trust members who support their goals to revert the 126 year-old charity to an apolitical’ state.
In 2017, the charity came under fire after it emerged that the Trust had tried to force volunteers at a Norfolk mansion to wear the gay pride rainbow symbol on lanyards and badges to mark 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality – a demand later dropped by the charity.
RT lists its goals as restoring the Trust’s ‘apolitical ethos’ and helping it return ‘doing the best’ by keeping historic buildings, interiors, artefacts and gardens to the ‘highest standards’.
It also plans to restore the Trust’s historic gardens and houses’so that visitors may enjoy them visually, spatially and sometimes peacefully without interfering with interpretation.
The Trust came under fire in 2017 after it was revealed that they had tried to force volunteers to wear the gay pride rainbow symbol on lanyards at a Norfolk mansion in order to commemorate 50 years since the decriminalisation and legalization of homosexuality. [File picture]
Critics criticized the decision of National Trust bosses, which was to move the historic charity in an ‘bourgeois’ and “politically correct” direction after the report was released.
Ex-chairman Tim Parker sensationally quit just 24 hours after furious members launched an ‘anti-woke’ vote of no confidence in a bid to depose him in the wake of the findings.
Mr Parker was criticised for describing Black Lives Matter in a letter to a member at last November’s virtual annual gathering as a “human rights movement without any party-political affiliations”
BLM, a British law enforcement organization, has called for the defunding the police in the UK following the killing of George Floyd in the US.
At the meeting, Mr Parker stated that he was not a member of BLM and that he hoped Trust members would understand that the Trust had not become a political organization that was taken over by “a bunch of woke folks or anything of that nature”.
Parker, who assumed the role of Trust president in 2014, said that the Trust was committed to anti-racism as well as creating an inclusive, welcoming environment.
More than 6,000 current and former members have thrown their weight behind RT, with over £40,000 raised in a ‘fighting fund’ to help battle the charity’s ‘anti-woke’ policies. Pictured: Neil Bennett of Restore Trust, who oversees the group’s ever-growing list of donors