National Trust chief operating officer to take over charity’s top role in March

January 4, 2018

Swindon-based The National Trust has named Hilary McGrady as its new director-general. She will officially take over on March 12 from current director-general Helen Ghosh, who announced last year that she would be stepping down to take up a new position.


Hilary, pictured, has worked for the conservation charity for 12 years – the last four in the executive team role of chief operating officer. 

During that period the Trust, which has 5m members and 11,000 employees, has enjoyed four consecutive years of growth in visitor numbers, income and conservation spend.


In that post Hilary has had overall responsibility for the operation, care and management of the Trust’s property portfolio in England, Wales and Northern Ireland made up of almost 250,000 hectares of countryside, 778 miles of coastline and more than 500 historic buildings.


She oversees the daily running of all the Trust’s properties, including conservation and visitor experience, along with the charity’s commercial business.  


Hilary previously worked as a regional director, firstly in Northern Ireland, then Wales and finally London and the South East.


Originally trained in graphic design, Hilary’s career path started in drinks industry branding and marketing. In 1998 she became director of a national arts charity and was subsequently seconded in 2002 to become CEO of Belfast’s bid to become European Capital of Culture.


A two-year return to the private sector as cultural tourism consultant preceded her move to the National Trust, whose showpiece, award-winning headquarters building Heelis is at Churchward, the site of Swindon’s former rail works.


Helen Ghosh will leave the charity in early March to take up a new role as the Master of Balliol College at Oxford University.


Trust chair Tim Parker said: “The decision to appoint Hilary was made by the board of trustees and I am pleased to say the decision was unanimous.


“Hilary’s appointment followed a rigorous selection process during which we considered a range of excellent candidates from a variety of different backgrounds and organisations.


“I look forward to working closely with Hilary over the coming years and know she will do an outstanding job leading the Trust.”


Hilary said: “I am immensely proud to have been appointed as director-general of the National Trust. This is a charity I love because it looks after the things that matter to me personally, the outdoors, the arts, heritage, nature and beauty.


“But more importantly these are things that I believe matter to the nation which is why we have 5m members and many more supporters. I am looking forward to building on that support and inspiring even more people to look after the places that matter to them.”


During her five plus years at the helm, Helen Ghosh has overseen the implementation of an ambitious 10-year strategy, during which the Trust has returned to its roots by playing an active part in meeting some of the big challenges facing the nation, such as the declining health of the natural environment and the loss of green spaces in towns and cities.Membership numbers and visits have soared since 2012, with both now at all-time high.





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