It is now 25 year to the day since I started working for the National Trust. In that time I have seen many changes. Changes to the organisation, ways of working and styles of leadership. I can remember the membership being 1.8 million. We now have 4 million and counting.
I can remember at the property where I worked, Kedleston Hall & Park, prior to the NT taking on the responsibility of running the place, the anticipation and uncertainty of working for a conservation charity. What would it be like? What were we going to be doing? According to our then employer, he said, 'nothing will change, I'll still be giving the orders'. He was partly right! But that might be the subject of a book later in life!
I met countless people in that time, within a short time, Prince Charles came to a function to raise money for the appeal which was then in full swing. As I stood on 'sentry' duty my impression was 'he's a lot shorter in real life'.
I soon found my feet with the Trust and took on more and more responsibility. I worked for a time on my own as my colleague had left and they were unsure as to what to do. I found myself in charge of the property as Head Warden and there I remained for 23 years.
We hosted concerts, had thousands of classical fans one night, then thousands of screaming girls the next night when Westlife were playing in the park, all good fun. Our social life on the property was great, we organised events, picnics and outings.
We took on additional property's surrounding the property. In all I was responsible for four large outdoor sites, but with the same resources we had with one!
I have worked with some fantastic people, committed, passionate about what they were doing and their enthusiasm has rubbed off on others. I have been fortunate enough to see young folk come into the sphere of conservation and outdoor working and have given them a steer in the direction of the NT. It's good to see them now as Rangers working in different parts of the country.
The Trust has changed beyond what it was when I first started. More so in the last few years. It takes on challenges and sets itself tough targets. It is trying to do things differently to react to changing times that we live in.
I feel very privileged to have worked for this organisation and to have made a difference, albeit perhaps a small one. I will forever be touched by the people I have met along the way. From the humble estate worker to the knowledgeable expert.
I am looking forward to the next 25 years. I can't wait to see what that brings! Where will the NT be then? Will the measures we take today be enough to conserve our precious places for the future? Or will we need to change what we do to safeguard these cherished places. Challenging times ahead!