Record membership for National Trust

More than four-million people have signed up to the heritage body despite the economic downturn.

Membership of the National Trust has grown to more than four-million people for the first time in its history.

This has drawn around £120m into National Trust coffers for use on thousands of conservation projects throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

"The recession is forcing people to stay at home and avoid costlier outings," said a spokesman.

"In times of recession, people tend to look to the past and they come to us for an authentic experience. Finally, our membership is good value and pays for itself after two or three visits."

Families make up more than a third of the membership and the category has grown faster than any other - up by 55 per cent in two years.

Director-general Fiona Reynolds said: "Four-million members is a powerful indication that our mission to look after special places remains as relevant today as in 1895.

"It's encouraging that people's love of places remains as strong, if not stronger, in hard economic times as it does in the boom years," she added.

The trust will celebrate its success this weekend by asking visitors to help it create a "virtual time capsule" by posting comments and images on its Facebook page or on Twitter.

London has more than 300,000 members, Surrey 180,000 and more than 42,000 live abroad, some as far afield as Japan. National Trust-managed sites are visited by more than 90 million people a year.

- The trust is to plant 20,000 spring bulbs of daffodil, tulip, cyclamen and hyacinth at Kingston Lacy in Dorset. It will take 20 volunteers six weeks.


In addition to 700 miles of British coastline, the National Trust looks after:

300 - Historic houses

250k - Hectares of land

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