Chamber members hear National Trust call to arms

(from left) Bill McGawley, Robyn Brown and NECC president Mike Matthews.(from left) Bill McGawley, Robyn Brown and NECC president Mike Matthews.
(from left) Bill McGawley, Robyn Brown and NECC president Mike Matthews.
North East businesses have been urged to back the National Trust in its work to protect the nation's heritage.

The call was the key message to 150 North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) members by trust assistant director of operations Robyn Brown.

“Our vision for the next five years is to help create a healthier and more beautiful environment and encourage people to visit our wonderful landscapes,” she said.

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Speaking about the ‘experience economy,’ she said the trust aimed to spend £1billion over the next ten years and commercial income and diversification were becoming increasingly important to the Trust with glamping, cottages, camping and catering all valuable, fund-raising assets.

“We want visitors to feel compelled to visit our sites, feel an emotional connection and return time and time again.

“Historically our country houses were part of the community and we want to see a return to that era. We want to attract new audiences with attractions like the pub at Gibside, which was developed as a result of an appeal from the local community.

“We are also exploring ways of working more closely with local authorities to use an endowment model to help fund parks and have already had success with this in Sheffield and are in discussions with Newcastle and Liverpool as well.”

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Also speaking at the Tyne and Wear AGM at the Assembly Rooms in Newcastle upon Tyne was TDR chairman Bill McGawley, who was re-elected as Tyne and Wear Committee chairman. He reviewed the year and said the overall picture had been one of growth but there were still uncertainties and concerns in areas such as energy and the skills deficit.

However he stressed the maximum potential of the region, global market opportunities and the desire to have improved connectivity to help businesses grow.