I joined the National Trust in 2012, initially managing Chedworth Roman Villa in the Cotswolds, and moved over to Clandon and Hatchlands as General Manager in February 2015. Less than four months later, the Clandon fire broke out.
Before the fire, we were a relatively small team of staff and volunteers at Clandon, opening the property to visitors and looking after the house. Clandon is now in the very capable hands of the project team, with regional and national specialists working on the enormous task ahead. But eventually Clandon will be handed back to us, the staff and volunteers who looked after Clandon before the fire, to manage once again.
My role on the project team is to provide continuity from pre-fire to post-restoration, acting as the ‘client’ for the project. As client I helped to develop and articulate a vision for the future for Clandon, and I sit on the project board to help ensure that this vision is being realised in everything we do, and to make sure that the staff, volunteers, and our local supporters have a voice in the project.
Alongside this, there’s also a certain amount of ‘business as usual’ at Clandon which my team are taking care of. The brilliant team of volunteers, who all volunteered at Clandon before the fire, are very much still involved, helping us to open Clandon to the public as much as possible as the project unfolds. And then there are all the things like pest control, cleaning, and site security to take care of, which don’t stop just because there’s a major project underway.
It’s an extraordinary project to be involved in and needless to say quite different to what I expected to be doing when I took the job. But my focus – keeping all of our supporters engaged with the work that the Trust is doing at Clandon, and telling the story of this exceptional house – remains unchanged.