125 Portraits staff showcase

To mark our 125th anniversary, we’ve put together this online exhibition based on our book 'A Portrait of the National Trust'. Celebrating the many incredible people who work with us with, the black and white portraits were commissioned by Chris Lacey, our former head of photography, and taken by photographer John Millar. This selection of six full-length portraits from the book focuses on our staff, whose skill and hard work allows us to continue to protect the special places we care for.

The full collection of 125 portraits of the staff, volunteers and supporters is available in our book, 'A Portrait of the National Trust: 125 Stories for 125 Years'.

From rangers, curators and gardeners to bakers, engineers and photographers, the jobs at the National Trust are many and varied. Whatever job they do, our staff up and down the country are busy working hard to protect the historic buildings, coastline and countryside in our care for everyone to enjoy. 

Video

Staff portraits captured on film

Enjoy this video snapshot of the six portraits highlighted here on our staff showcase selected from the 125 portraits book.

Junko Wright, conservation assistant

When she came to Britain from Japan to study and pursue her passion for fine art and antiques, Junko never imagined she would still be here 30 years later.

Junko Wright
Junko Wright
Junko Wright

'I'm a specialist in Oriental collections, particularly ceramics. I saw the job at Blickling Estate, Norfolk, and jumped straight for it. We have a lot of Oriental items in this house, largely because of the taste of one of the previous owners, William Kerr, the 8th Marquess of Lothian. He inherited this house and lived here in the mid-19th century, and collected a lot of the Oriental items we have today. I love caring for the collections and handling such priceless artefacts. It is a real privilege to work close up with them.’

" Part of my role is to show the public around on conservation tours. I tell them what we are doing and how we care for the items. I really enjoy this part of the job. "

Stuart Bowden, dance instructor

Stuart Bowden is known as the ‘Doctor of Dance’ at Sutton House, London. He has led Sutton House’s resident over-55s group in reggae and pop dance routines for the past nine years.

 

Stuart Bowden
Stuart Bowden
Stuart Bowden

‘Dancing can be empowering. The over-55s group often say they feel 10 years younger after a two-hour dance session. I find it very rewarding too. It’s a wonderfully eclectic group of people and it’s been amazing getting to know them. The spirit of Sutton House is rooted in the local community and the local people help shape the programming and events there. The results are really vibrant. This appeals to me as an artist because I want to be an advocate for diversity. I feel really proud to be a part of such a dynamic environment.’ 

Rachel Brewer, cider-maker and gardener

After years spent as a helicopter operations officer in London, Rachel decided to pursue her passion and retrained as a gardener. She now manages 10 acres of orchards at Barrington Court, Somerset and has reintroduced cider-making there.

 

Rachel Brewer
Rachel Brewer
Rachel Brewer

‘Applying for the Trust’s ‘Careership’ in gardening was the best decision I’ve ever made, and it led me into cider-making by chance. We decided to make a batch of cider to coincide with Barrington Court’s centenary with the Trust in 2007. It became the first of many batches of what’s now an award-winning product, and the project is protecting many heritage varieties of apple, too. It’s only by doing all sorts of other things that didn’t suit me that I’ve found myself here, doing what I love.’ 

Sharolyn Parnham, GIS consultant 

Sharolyn puts her mapping and data skills to use as our geographic information system (GIS) consultant in the Lake District, producing and analysing map data to help with conservation work and inform decisions.

Sharolyn Parnham
Sharolyn Parnham
Sharolyn Parnham

‘Looking after trees, wildlife habitats, marine coastlines – that’s what motivated me to work in nature conservation. I love the insight my role gives me across the organisation. It’s not just nature conservation – it’s cultural heritage and it’s people’s wellbeing. I get a real reward from helping other people who are also motivated by that cause. I love using my GIS skills to help answer questions or come up with solutions to problems.’ 

Natalie Pownall, ranger 

In her three and a half years with us, Natalie has gone from novice volunteer at Dunham Massey, Cheshire, to ranger trainee and is now a fully-fledged ranger in West Yorkshire.

Natalie Pownall
Natalie Pownall
Natalie Pownall

'Earlier last year, on my first official day after getting my ranger job, there was a terrible fire at Marsden Moor. It was heart-breaking to see all the work that we’d done go up in smoke and habitats being destroyed. My role was to support the firefighters and we were out beating the flames for hours. My legs were black, my hair stank of smoke and I had nightmares for a while afterwards, but I’d do it again tomorrow if I had to.’ 

" It’s so satisfying to be able to keep the paths in good nick for visitors to enjoy, as well as reducing erosion and plant damage at the same time. "

James McCullough, head spade-maker, and Tom Mahon, assistant spade-maker

The Patterson family started making spades here in Ireland in 1695, passing down the skills through many generations of the family until just 30 years ago. Today, James and Tom are the custodians of these skills at Patterson’s Spade Mill in County Antrim.

James McCullough and Tom Mahon
James McCullough and Tom Mahon
James McCullough and Tom Mahon

‘There’s no doubt, Patterson’s Spade Mill is a really interesting place. It’s a real, traditional spade mill still in full working order and boredom is just never an issue. James and I are keeping an important part of our cultural heritage alive. We catch up on our machinery maintenance and spade orders in the winter when we’re closed to the public, and when we are open during the summer we spend a lot of time doing demonstrations. People really enjoy coming here to see the machinery in full swing and witness what we are making out of red-hot metal.’

 

A Portrait of the National Trust book

A Portrait of the National Trust: 125 Stories for 125 Years  

2020 is our 125th anniversary year. This limited edition photographic collection shines a light on the many incredible people who contribute their skills, time, passions and personalities to our cause. Featuring dramatic photographic portraits by John Millar and personal interviews, it's a representation of the National Trust as it is today. It's a huge thank you to everyone who has supported us over the years.

125 Portraits online exhibition

Delve into the stories and portraits of our staff, volunteers and supporters

More about our staff