Congratulations to Duncan Mackay; his years of active participation in the conservation of our natural heritage is at the core of his successful run for Council of the National Trust.
You may be familiar with one of the many books Duncan has written but if you want to know a little more about him, here is his election statement.
I am a believer in the vision that Octavia Hill, Canon Rawnsley and Robert Hunter created and I have the energy to want to make it live in the landscapes of today, especially in the urban and urban fringe ‘Green Belt’ roots of the Trust’s founders.
My father taught me to read maps, examine vernacular buildings and identify birds, plants and animals. Every autumn we would pick bilberries at Brimham Rocks to make pies and climb Roseberry Topping to lose the calories gained. I now recognise this was a precious gift of learning that few children experience. The opportunity to allow children to explore nature on their doorstep seems to be an essential stage of growing up that needs greater encouragement. As a teenager, I was lucky to have classmates like Alan Hinkes, who later climbed every 8,000 metre peak in the world, to explore Yorkshire with.
I studied geology and geography at Newcastle University.
I am curious about everything. I see beauty in small things and the potentiality for any place to be better and filled with nature. I am the author of six non-fiction books and particularly proud of my latest, Whispers of Better Things, a detailed study of Octavia Hill’s remarkable family and how they helped co-create the idea for the National Trust. I won the Henry Ford European Conservation Award for Heritage in 1996 and an Unlimited Millennium Award to explore the longest straight line in Britain on a folding bicycle in 2001. I am on the Canal and River Trust’s Environmental Advisory Panel and planning to help it create ‘Low Speed 2’, England’s first inter-city route for canoeing, cycling and walking between Birmingham and London on the route of the Grand Union Canal. I am a past Commodore of Henley Sailing Club.
As Deputy Secretary of the Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society I acquired knowledge of the Trust’s founders and carried their spirit into twentieth century conservation. During 1987-90 with the Countryside Commission, I dedicated the Thames Path, reorganised the Ridgeway and funded land acquisitions for Hughenden.
At Berkshire County Council I managed forestry, archaeology, listed buildings, landscape, PROW, environmental awards and ecology teams and helped transfer the Ankerwycke Estate.
In the Babtie Group I was seconded as Director of the Countryside Agency’s South East region. I worked with the Trust’s managers and lobbied Ministers with Fiona Reynolds to create Scotney Castle’s land bridge. Since 2007 I have had a number of policy roles with Natural England and now lead on Urban and peri-urban environments working to action the government’s 25 year plan for the environment and its opportunities for Green Belt enhancements as ‘breathing spaces’.
I have been a member of the National Trust for several decades (except where potential perceived conflict of interest existed) and I have volunteered at Attingham Park.
The Trust’s founders have inspired me throughout my conservation career. I love the open space freedom that Trust land offers and I want to create the opportunity to give something back as a voluntary non-executive.