Internal candidate to take over National Trust director general role from Helen Ghosh

The National Trust (NT) has chosen current chief operating officer Hilary McGrady to take over as director general when current director general Helen Ghosh leaves to take up the role of Master of Balliol College at Oxford University.

Hilary McGrady. Image: National Trust
Hilary McGrady. Image: National Trust

Ghosh whose five year tenure saw the NT work with councils on Rethinking Parks projects, develop an online toolkit for the development of parks trusts, and help launch the first Natural Capital Account for London, will hand over to McGrady on 12th March. 

McGrady said she was "immensely proud" after being appointed to the Trust’s most senior leadership role. She has worked for the charity for 12 years and been in her current role for four.

Tim Parker, the trust’s chair, 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."

As chief operating officer, McGrady has overall responsibility for the operation, care and management of the trust’s property portfolio in England, Wales and Northern Ireland comprising 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.

Under her tenure, the NT has seen four consecutive years of growth in visitor numbers, income and conservation spend. She previously held a number of regional director roles, firstly in Northern Ireland, then Wales and finally London and the South East. 

She 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 five million 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."

Ghosh has been DG for five years, during which time she oversaw the implementation of the NT’s 10-year strategy, which outlined a desire to protect parks and green space, returning to trust founder Octavia Hill's commitment to provide "outdoor sitting rooms" for the poor.

The NT has since worked with Manchester and Sheffield City Councils on one of the Rethinking Parks projects looking at endowments and volunteers. It developed and published an online toolkit that gives advice on establishing a parks trust, and subsequently lent expertise to help Newcastle City Council’s plans to develop its own parks trust.

Most recently, she helped launch the first Natural Capital Account for London, which the NT funded alongside the Mayor of London and the Heritage Lottery Fund. That judged that the London’s green spaces gave Londoners benefits worth £91 billion.

Around 25 million people paid to visit an NT property last year, while there were an estimated 200 million visits to the coastlines and countryside the charity looks after for the nation.


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