Friday, October 5, 2018

News: Trust team taking shape

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Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust (WWPT) has doubled its team since taking on the mission of saving the Grade I listed Georgian mansion in Rotherham from decline.

When the WWPT concluded the acquisition of the largest privately-owned house in Europe for £7m in 2017. Since May of that year expertise has been brought in at all levels and there is now the equivalent of 19 full time staff.

Sarah McLeod, CEO of WWPT, said: "Our original team was seven-strong. Thanks to grant funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, The National Trust and others, we have been able to bring in specialists with a wealth of experience and talent and we are making great headway with the tasks ahead."

Mark Williamson, WWPT's first commercial operations manager, is no stranger to getting hands-on in historic settings. He began his career dressed as a Viking at Jorvik Viking Centre.

"I was a tour guide before starting my masters at the University of York and the costume was part of the job," said Mark, from East Yorkshire.

After gaining an MA in Medieval History, he worked at York Minster, which is where he first learned about Wentworth Woodhouse - the minster houses a memorial to Thomas Watson-Wentworth who inherited the house in 1695.

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Mark went on to launch all commercial aspects of the UK's first National Civil War Centre at Newark-on-Trent, before doing the same for an integrated site including the Centre, Newark's Palace Theatre and Visitor Information Centre, which put Newark on the tourism map.

"I'm looking forward to opening new visitor and commercial offerings which will enable this house to stand proud again."

Joe Tomlinson also brings years of experience as the mansion's new catering manager. "I want our menus to put Wentworth on the culinary map for tourists and locals alike," said Joe, who grew up in Elsecar and Penistone. During his 13-year career, Joe was head chef at a 38-bed hotel in Austria before working as catering manager for a trampoline park across sites in Rotherham, Sheffield and Leeds.

Marketing and Communications Officer Hannah Pearson studied and worked as a journalist in Sheffield before moving to Kent to lead the marketing and communications at National Trust property Knole as it went through a five-year restoration project.

Other recent gains for the trust include Keeley Stephenson as personal assistant to the chief executive's office.

Previously a banking PA, Keeley is from Thorpe Hesley. She runs Rainbows and Rangers groups in the village and was determined to one day work at the house she knew from childhood.

Tracie Midgley, wedding and events officer, got to know Wentworth Woodhouse in her previous role at Regional Media Ltd, where she produced events at the house. She has been involved in fundraising over the last few years.

Wentworth Woodhouse website

Images: WWPT

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