More National Trust Responses To Open Letter

Chief Executive and Assistant Director of Operations, East of England, respond to my open letter.

With kind permission from the National Trust I am able to publish my emails from both Dame Fiona Reynolds and Justin Scully (Assistant Director of Operations, East England). Email contact between myself and the Trust is ongoing and these are the original responses, but so far little has changed. However, the possibility of a meeting between Samphire and Blickling Hall has been mentioned.

Dame Fiona Reynolds:

Dear Victoria

Thank you for letting us know your concerns about the closure of the
Samphire Shop.

Whilst I understand your concerns, I apologise that I am unable to reply
personally.  I strongly believe that our local managers are the best
placed and best informed to make the right decisions for the long-term
sustainability of their property. I understand that Helen Bailey has
replied to you already, as has Justin Scully and I do hope they have
helped in explaining the reasons behind the decisions they have made.
If you would like to discuss this further, I know that Helen would be
more than happy to meet with you.

With best wishes

Dame Fiona Reynolds, DBE
National Trust

Justin Scully, Head of East of England

Dear Victoria,

I have been passed your correspondence to Helen Bailey regarding the decision not to

renew the lease on the Samphire shop on the Blickling Estate. I’m the Operations

Director for all of our properties in the East of England, and I felt it would be

useful if I offered some further comments if that would be helpful.

Please be assured that I am aware of the discussions that have been taking place

between our Blickling team and the Nethercotts.  They have been going on for many

months and I understand that the lease was due to expire in May of last year and was

subsequently extended in order for more discussions regarding options for relocation

of the shop, amongst other things, to take place.

We are grateful for the efforts of Karen and Jeff over the past few years as our

tenants. Our decision not to renew their lease is in no way linked to our support

for local businesses and suppliers – indeed we invest over £1 million in the local

economy each year in the Region. We are also committed to supporting local food

sourcing and Samphire’s closure does not diminish that commitment. At Blickling we

source locally where possible for use in our restaurant and the pantry area of our


Helen feels strongly, and I agree with her, that we have a responsibility to respond

to the needs of our many thousands of customers and supporters who visit Blickling

from far and wide each year. We will not be replacing Samphire with a corporate copy

of a farm shop, nor will we try to take advantage of their success.  We have felt

for many years that we are doing our visitors a disservice in this particular area

as people arrive. Our plans are to transform the welcome that members and

non-members, locals and holidaymakers receive. We also have to compete in an area of

Norfolk that has much to tempt people; whether they are looking for a day out or

somewhere to grab a coffee after walking the dog.  If we don’t respond to their

needs then the chances are they will go elsewhere and the wonderful experience that

is Blickling may be at risk.

We believe in supporting the managers of our places to lead their teams effectively

and make responsible business decisions. We use an approach to decision-making that

covers financial, conservation and people considerations so please be reassured that

we are not all about the bottom line. We believe, from top to bottom in the Trust,

that our managers are the best placed and best informed to make the right decisions

for the long-term sustainability of their property, ensuring that generations still

to come can enjoy what we care for.

Thank you for contacting us with your concerns and I hope I have gone some way to

convincing you that we are just as passionate about food, communities and offering

the best experience that we can to as many people as we can.

If it would be helpful to have a chat about this further, do drop me an email or my

contact numbers are below, regards Justin

Justin Scully,

Assistant Director, Operations

The National Trust,

East of England Regional Office,

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2 Responses to More National Trust Responses To Open Letter

  1. Len says:

    This cynical Nation Trust decision to shut down the Samphire Shop.
    As one would expect at first. Hand washing from the hierarchy, Disingenuous waffle from junior management. This Big Corporation vandalism, this destruction of something that is good, this is an unjust decision made by persons who are either ill informed or who have a secret agenda. I’ve seen it all before. It is possible to show the National Trust the error of its ways, but only by lots of sustained negative publicity, protests, boycotts and pressure from the public/visitors/members via petitions, letters etc. Lobbying local MPs can have a big influence(always more effective in an election year).
    David can beat Goliath.
    Good luck.

  2. Patricia says:

    …lengthy explanations are all well and good, but when are they going to redress the situation?

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