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National Trust pays tribute to volunteers who clocked up one million hours in lockdown

National Trust: Pundit on 'interesting' Tim Parker resignation

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 The news comes as the head of the conservation charity offered her “heartfelt thanks” to its 55,000 volunteers, who she described as the “backbone of what we do” adding that the charity could not have got through the past year without their ongoing support. In a video message to the organisation’s volunteers, Director General Hilary McGrady said: “We’ve had the most exceptional year, and I want to say a heartfelt thank you to each and every one of the volunteers in whatever way you’ve contributed this year. Our volunteers are important to us every minute of every day with the amazing contributions they make to the work we do every day.

“Whatever your role; whether it was indoors, outdoors, at a property or at home, without you I’m not sure we could have got through this past year. It’s been really difficult for so many, for all sorts of reasons.”

She also paid tribute to those volunteers lost to Covid and for other reasons over the past year, adding that the sense of loss has been deeply felt by all staff.

Volunteering at the Trust has been hit hard over the past year with many sites closed, and up to 80 percent of its staff furloughed.

Since its gardens and houses reopened in May, more than half of the charity’s volunteers have returned to their roles. And it is hoped many more will return over the coming weeks as restrictions continue to be lifted.

While many had to remain at home during lockdown, thousands took part in socially-distanced volunteering, from gardening and countryside management to bee keeping and digital archiving. Many have remained in contact with their local properties, and many more are eager to return once restrictions are lifted.

Hilary added: “Volunteers are the backbone of what we do, and often the first person people see when they visit our places, and very often the person that waves them goodbye. Their contribution is so important to us, and I’m looking forward to seeing many of them back.”

Myriad projects during lockdown included Dynamic Dunescapes, to help reverse the overgrowth of vegetation on beaches and welcome back species suffering habitat loss; a mother and daughter team who laid Easter egg trails; woodland planting; and looking after a trio of bee hives that had been badly affected by the winter weather.

Today, we highlight a selection of volunteers from the book A Portrait of the National Trust, published last year and featuring 125 stories and photographs of volunteers, donors, visitors and staff to mark the charity’s 125th birthday.

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