On Wednesday, many of our wonderful Secretariat volunteers were in the office. First a discussion about INTO’s finances with our Accountant Bob, prior to the EC/Board meeting next week (what a way to start the day – and before 8.30am too!). Thankfully our figures all add up and are looking fairly healthy.
Next a meeting with John about the INTO governance project. I sit on the working group that’s reviewing this but need some help from John, a project manager, to make sure we hit all the milestones. It’s been preying on my mind, but talking it all through with John helped immensely. Then a catch up with Louisa, our Amicus co-ordinator who’s been reviewing the programme but hasn’t been in the office for a while so good to find out where that’s all got to.
After lunch – and a phone call with Guy the travel agent who is helping prepare our pilot INTO holiday project (with the Barbados National Trust – watch this space for more information soon!), I had the pleasure of finally meeting Rosalind who has been supporting Bill with the website from Australia but is now here in the UK studying for her Masters. A great three-way discussion with Noemie as well, who is also working on the INTO site and some good ideas emerging. Then a call with Bill in Canada, Geoff in the US and Oliver in France (my über-volunteer advisers!) to make sure we have everything in place for the meeting in Milan next week.
Lastly a quick tinker with my presentation for the following day … I was delighted to be invited to address the NTEWNI’s London and South East Region Consultancy Conference, the theme of which was ‘You are the National Trust’. I had been asked to focus on how NT consultants (or experts in e.g. marketing, nature conservation, building surveying) can make the most of their expertise and potential – and be supported in their professional development, through international assignments. It was great to be able to share ideas about how this could be facilitated by INTO.
On Friday I went to a workshop on the future of Charlton House, near Greenwich. Not strictly speaking an INTO-thing, but an opportunity to spend the day (I don’t normally work on a Friday – so a busman’s holiday!) thinking about something completely different. And it was inspirational! Met some former colleagues, including Simon Jervis who was Director of Historic Buildings at the NT when I first joined, Malcolm Airs who I recently asked to chair an event for the Czech National Trust and John Darlington who is now Director of World Monuments Fund Britain.
Charlton House is an amazing Jacobean mansion in South East London, which was bought by the local authority in the 1920s and has been used as a community resource ever since – it hosts the library, bridge club, playgroups, weddings, etc – like a rather wonderful ‘village hall’. It’s now passed into the ownership of the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust who are working with the WMF and Donald Insall Associates (who hosted the workshop) to develop a vision for the site – one that will prioritise the building’s conservation needs and protect its status as a vital community centre. A fascinating day – actually very interesting from an INTO perspective as an alternative to the National Trust model – and some fascinating and generous fellow delegates.
The weekend was largely given over to garden pursuits, including damson harvesting (and jam making!). Schlurp!