This 2014 year has been a period where INTO again demonstrated the two-way benefit of cooperative relationships. Bringing together its global network, INTO has been able to provide leadership by example to those wishing to be seen standing with friends, all sharing a vision of a better world where mutual respect for heritage lays the best foundation for generations to follow.
A superb example was the awareness-raising and fund-raising walk along El Camino, the English Way, from Ferrol to Santiago de Compostela, across Galicia in Northern Spain.
From the Galician perspective, the profile of the heritage cause was raised within numerous communities, in media coverage across Spain and in the course of nine civic receptions which we attended. Local and provincial civic leaders had their attention focussed on the value of heritage, being reminded that properly conserved and presented, local civic pride could materialise into global tourism and so economic potential.
We left Spain with our local INTO member Tesouros de Galicia ‘standing taller’, respected and valued by the Spanish community; whilst INTO itself was gratefully acknowledged as having true potential to bring its global weight to reinforce, indeed strengthen, our members.
Across the INTO family of members, where the Small Grant Programme can help to kick-start special projects; where exchanges between members of heritage practitioners can strengthen the know-how of other National Trusts not yet in a position to retain such expertise; where Trust volunteers can lend enthusiasm, skills and experience in the course of working holidays; and where INTO itself can express an opinion from a global perspective to reinforce what might otherwise be the lone voice for heritage conservation of a member Trust in their country. Many INTO members desire their own advocacy role, their status, to be reinforced by their international organisation – by their INTO offering the capacity to reinforce their role. Obviously scarce human and financial resources will always be a restraining factor on INTO’s capacity, but it will never be deterred from its mission to conserve and sustain our shared global heritage.