Trust puts focus on the great outdoors

A FOCUS on the outdoors will help kick-start a major shift in direction for the National Trust in the North East under the leadership of a new director of the region.

Janet Bibby started with the Trust this year after spending the last seven as chief executive of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust.

And she will now lead the Trust’s ambitious plans to bring people closer to nature through a range of outdoor experiences, from walking to rock climbing and canyoning.

Janet said: “I am very proud to be working for the National Trust in such a special part of the country. “Through a charitable organisation like this people can get outdoors, see vibrant places with stories to tell but also know that these places are being taken care of for future generations.”

She added: “I think the Trust is very well known for the built places we look after but not so much for outdoor spaces, whether coast or countryside.

“We feel it’s time to change that in the hope to encourage more people to take advantage of what the outdoors can offer.”

In the North East, the National Trust cares for 21 miles of coastline and nearly 12,000 hectares of land as well as some of the most iconic built properties including Cragside, Lindisfarne Castle and Wallington.

Ms Bibby said: “Whilst focusing on the outdoors makes a lot of sense for the Trust we will continue to look after our buildings and improve the experiences that we offer.

“Last year we challenged our attractions to bring one room to life and this year we will continue with that challenge. Our places have great stories to tell and we want to do that in the most exciting way.”

One National Trust attraction in the North East taking part in the Bringing Places to Life programme is Wallington which celebrates the 200th anniversary of the William Bell Scott paintings in the central hall this year.

Throughout 2011, re-enactment events will bring each painting to life, starting with a Roman invasion on Sunday, May 1 and Monday, May 2.

In addition, nine artists will create contemporary responses to the Bell Scott paintings which will be on display at Wallington while a community arts project will ask people to let the Trust know what they think Bell Scott would paint if he were to create a scene that represented life in Northumberland today.

Janet added: “My philosophy is that everyone deserves the opportunity to try something new, to get enjoyment from life and I know the National Trust can help with this.

“I hope that over the next year the Trust will become more relevant to people in the North East, providing an escape from the stresses of everyday life which we all need.”