National Trust announces René Olivieri as new Chair

Close up of an oak leaf
Published : 15 Dec 2021

Today we announced the appointment of René Olivieri as our new Chair. Mr Olivieri will take up the post at the Trust, Europe’s biggest conservation charity, in February 2022, and has pledged to bring his unique experience in both culture and nature to become a forceful advocate for the charity.

Mr Olivieri was Interim Chair of the National Lottery Heritage Fund and a member of both the Culture Recovery Fund Board and the Government’s Cultural and Heritage Capital Advisory Board. He was Chair of the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts for six years and has been Chair of the RSPCA since 2019.

The announcement follows predecessor Tim Parker’s decision to step down in May after seven years in the position. Deputy Chair Orna NiChionna Turner is currently acting as Chair and will continue until Mr Olivieri takes up the role formally. The Chair is the most senior volunteer at the charity and will head the Board of Trustees and the Council.

Making essential connections

In accepting the role René Olivieri said, 'I’m delighted at the prospect of chairing the National Trust. As a charity and national institution with a 126-year history, it’s uniquely placed to recognise the debt to the generations that have gone before and its responsibility to those which follow.

'I believe the National Trust is the body that makes essential connections in our world, between the past and future, nature and heritage and between people from all parts of society. 

'We must all work together to preserve and promote our heritage while taking climate action and restoring nature. I want to ensure the National Trust, which is privileged to be able to take such a long view, plays a leading role in realising this ambition.'  

Delivering strategy

Mr Olivieri’s role at the charity will be to provide leadership to the Board of Trustees and the Council and to support and guide the Director-General, Hilary McGrady and her team, in the delivery of the charity’s strategy.

Hilary McGrady said, 'I’m delighted René is joining us as Chair. We have the same ambition: to give as many people as possible access to the incredible collections, houses, land, and coastline that we care for on behalf of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. René brings passion, knowledge and a superb blend of skills and I am delighted to be able to work with him to fulfil our shared ambitions.

'On behalf of the whole organisation, I also want to take this opportunity to extend our heartfelt thanks to Orna NiChionna Turner, who has been a brilliant Interim Chair through the recent period, and who chaired our October AGM so expertly.'

Current interim Chair Orna NiChionna Turner said, 'It has been a privilege to have served as a Trustee of this great institution for eight years and to have helped the organisation address some particularly challenging issues in recent months as interim Chair. René’s skills and experience will be of immense value to the Trust and I look forward to working closely with him to ensure a smooth handover.'

The appointment of the new Chair was made by the National Trust’s Council which is made up of 36 members. They have a range of expertise in everything from education and agriculture, to art and the built environment. Half are elected directly by National Trust members and half by both appointing bodies which have a connection to the Trust, and by National Trust members.

Earlier this year we pledged to spend more than £360 million over the next three years on houses, gardens, and collections. We've also set targets to achieve carbon net zero, plant 20 million trees and restore 25,000 hectares of land to high nature value within the decade.

Mr Olivieri will be the 14th Chair of the Trust since it was established in 1895.