I joined the National Trust not long after my 60th birthday. On and off over the years I’ve thought of joining but never got round to it but something happened in my brain when I turned 60 and I thought now was the time. A kind of older person version of when Harry Enfield’s Kevin becomes a teenager!
As a “senior” you qualify for a discount on Lifetime Membership which reduces it from £1,730 to £1,295.
That seemed like a huge outlay and not much of a reduction when you think about it. I worked out that if you were to buy Lifetime Membership at the age of 20 and lived until you were 80 that would work out at just under £29 a year whereas if you took out membership at 60 and also lived to that same age that would be £65.
Slightly irritated by this I took out my membership at the normal adult rate of £72. Ever since joining I’ve remained slightly irritated with the National Trust.
My membership card duly arrived and after a successful first trip to Blenheim Palace where thankfully I was allowed in even though I’d failed to pre-book I’ve had nothing but trouble.
Ok, I know we’re in the midst of a global pandemic but whenever I tried to book tickets through their rather clunky app none were available.
After a few months of trying when I did finally get some tickets for Packwood House in Warwickshire, the staff seemed snooty and the social distancing rules were decidedly over-the-top.
Now I read that the Trust could face an official investigation by the Charity Commission for straying from its “clear, simple, purpose” to preserve historic buildings and treasures.
The Trust has been embroiled in a series of moves unpopular with its members including forcing volunteers to wear rainbow lanyards to support LGBT causes.
MPs were also infuriated with the trust’s 115 page “interim review”, titled the “Connections between Colonialism and Properties in the Care of the National Trust, Including Links with Historic Slavery”.
It found a third of its protected sites had ties to the “sometimes uncomfortable role that Britain and Britons, have played in global history”. Winston Churchill’s Chartwell residence in Kent was given as an example, with the wartime leader’s home highlighted alongside those of profiteers and slavers.
It amazes me that institutions like this – the BBC being another example – can afford to have so little regard for the interests and motivations of its target audiences.
Slightly irritated of Sevenoaks I remain but very glad I didn’t opt for the Senior Lifetime Membership.