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National Trust loses sight of it principles

I have an annual family membership for the National Trust (NT). I joined to support its cause to look after our heritage and open spaces and preserve them for everyone to enjoy.

It now seems that the National Trust has lost sight of its founding principles in trying to be all things to all people by putting pressure on volunteers at Felbrigg Hall to overtly support the LGBTQ community, or stay out of public view.

As part of the trust's year-long Prejudice and Pride: Exploring LGBTQ history - a fairly tenuous and sporadic history of the LGBTQ owners of a dozen or so of the NT's 350 properties - the trust decreed that volunteers at Felbrigg Hall should wear rainbow Gay Pride badges with the National Trust symbol superimposed on them, as well as Gay Pride lanyards to celebrate the Hall's past gay owner.

For volunteers who did not wish to do so, they were offered the opportunity to take a break from front-facing duties should they prefer. After a public outcry and a number of volunteer resignations, the NT reversed its decision.

But Annabel Smith, the trust's head of volunteering, made clear that, "while volunteering for the National Trust, we do request and expect individuals to uphold the values of the organisation".

So, what are the NT's values? And what do they say about supporting lobby groups, such as Gay Pride? Not a peep, as it happens. The words "equality" and "diversity" are not to be found in the NT's publicly available statement on its "values and behaviours".

The NT wishes to give life to these values "not by preaching, but by suggesting, enabling and inspiring", which hardly squares with the NT's diktats and conditions to volunteers on overt displays of support for LGBTQ issues. It, instead, plays into the politically correct populism that, if you are not giving full-throated support to LGBTQ issues, then, somehow, you are a homophobic dinosaur.

In terms of NT membership, my donation would be better used supporting smaller heritage groups, whose feet are still firmly on the ground they wish to preserve than a National Trust that has lost sight of the summits of its founding cause in the mist of political correctness.

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