This last week has been full of talk about Europe: the referendum, Brexit, opinion polls … Last weekend the European Council negotiations had me on the edge of my seat. This weekend, I’m already fed up with it.
I was expecting a lot of talk about Europe. I was expecting a certain amount of hyperbole. Even misinformation. What I wasn’t expecting was to feel quite so annoyed after just one week. I am proud to be European but I do think we need to have a serious debate about the EU. What we seem to be getting however is political personalities waffling on about benefit payments, economic safeguards and ‘Project Fear’ – or put simply the further greying of an already fairly shadowy area. If Europe is ‘on the verge of collapse’, surely it deserves more than this?
We went to the local Scout Group Quiz on Friday night. I like a good quiz. We have an original version of Trivial Pursuit (Genus I), which we sneak out every now and again to unsuspecting house guests. It’s basically a history test. Written in the 1980s, not only are the entertainment and arts & literature now history, so is the geography. If you need to guess a European question, the answer’s invariably Czechoslovakia, Leningrad or West/East Germany. The European landscape has changed a lot in our lifetimes.
I volunteer with the Scouts so it was doubly interesting to attend the National Trust’s Volunteer Manager Training this week. In my INTO role I work almost entirely with a fabulous team of volunteers so it was good to pick up some tips and action points. At one point during the session we were asked to reflect on our own volunteering and what made it good/bad. As a Scout Leader, I highlighted feeling part of a family, the joy my engagement brings to young people and the ability to do my own thing within a global structure. These are all things I hope to bring to my INTO role moving forward.
Lastly, this week we learned of the death of Roger Chorley. A whiz-kid accountant and environmentalist, Lord Chorley did many great things in his life and his time as Chairman of the National Trust. What we remember him most for is the ‘Chorley Forumula’, a way of calculating the endowment needs of properties. The Trust still uses it today when business cases are presented for property acquisitions and I have shared it with many overseas National Trusts. It’s a brilliant way of staying focussed on financial sustainability – and not getting too carried away!
It’s an all too simple solution to say of an endangered properties that ‘the National Trust can have it’. We must all be aware that the long-term care of the built (and natural) environment requires exceptional planning and commitment – and ideally very deep pockets! We salute Roger’s important work for the National Trust in this country and the international Trust movement more widely, and extend our sympathies to his family.