I have always thought that “writers` block” was a self-indulgent figment of a writer’s imagination. However, sitting here in front of a blank screen, on a delightful English Summers Day, I am struggling to stay rooted to my desk rather than escape onto our wonderful hills. Felicity and I did just that last night. We packed some food and fizz and found a wonderful spot on the Colwall side of the hills, marvelling at the view and tranquillity that was to found there for no cost other than making the effort.

Our evening was the perfect antidote to the extraordinary political chaos of Brexit and self-serving antics of so many people elected to support Democracy. The Amazon Fires. The posturing of the leaders at the G7 summit. I am sure that you will have your own list. It would be very easy to become deeply depressed and distressed by mankind. Then, out of the blue, some pure magic of human endeavour. Ben Stokes produced what most of our generation will probably dub as the finest innings ever to square the Ashes series with all still to play for. So, all is not lost. Man’s indomitable spirit shows us that there is a way forward if one applies will and determination.

Nowhere is this better exemplified than National Trust. Now a large and successful organisation, it is all too easy to overlook the vision and determination required to create this amazing collection of Estates, Gardens, Houses, artefacts and so much more. What better example for our political Leaders than this selfless caring for the heritage of our country for the benefit of all to access and enjoy. Equally impressive is the commitment to the preservation and protection of the Environment, with a huge on-going investment in human and other resources to show us all a way forward. It is not always cheap. But it is right!

The ethos of National Trust Centres is to provide a conduit for National Trust members to join in local activities that both promote the work of National Trust and also raise monies for small (but no less important) projects that fall under the radar of larger (and usually more urgent ) schemes.

Legacies form an important source of income for National Trust and to ensure that this generosity meets the interests of the donor and family, spending allocation is often decided by their local Centre.

Here in Worcester and Malvern we are proud to support National Trust properties in our catchment area. In turn, the Teams responsible for these properties are grateful for our support. A very good example of this mutual respect was provided by Coughton Court in July, who hosted a visit from our Centre in appreciation of our support for their restoration of miniatures and fans. We report on later pages where we propose to allocate our monies this year. Our thanks go to Ian Rowat and his Team for visiting, discussing and recommending this happy outcome for our fund-raising.

We have included a few pages of some local National Trust properties that our Centre has provided support to. Croome Court and The Firs are already very popular and well supported destinations so in this issue we include Greyfriars, Brockhampton Court and Hanbury. In our busy lives it is all too easy to feel that we have been there and done that. But it can be rewarding to re-visit, refresh the memory, or see something missed last time. How about catching a bus (free!) to Worcester and joining friends for a coffee in the Greyfriars “oasis” within a City?

With just one trip to go (to Buscot Park) on 18th September, this brings this year’s outings to a close. I have joined all but one trip this year, and enjoyed wonderful company, great properties and gardens, and, whisper it, superb weather! We seem to have the knack of choosing our days well! Thank you to Tony Collins and his enthusiastic team. Where would be without all of you? You will notice that we have announced trips and dates for next year, but booking forms for these will not be available until our February Newsletter. But you can put dates in your diary!

Although September has more Summer Days than June, we rather think of the approaching Autumn, which will see the start of our Talks Programme. We offer a warm welcome to Alan Dyson who is now running these Events. Alan introduces himself in later pages. As he himself admits, Rod Pardoe will be a hard act to follow. However, a new person at the helm will offer fresh contacts and interests and I am sure that we can all look forward to stimulating Talks in the Season ahead. Do make sure that you have put dates, times and meeting places in your diary.

Our web-site goes from strength to strength. This is thanks to David Sharman and his dogged determination to master the input of words and photos. Do make a habit of logging on at least once a month. Not only is there full information on our Programme of Events, but also our contacts list and even the chance to see your own photo on one of our trips, talks or holidays

I have had really good feedback from many members responding to our monthly News Email. Not only are we keeping you up to date with month by month reminders, but we are also managing to fill some trips and holiday vacancies. However, there is one mystery. Why do only 75% of you open your emails? Our emails are not “spam” and do not have any commercial value to hackers (we do not hold any other information, such as address, phone number) with your email address. So please do open your mail; it is very demoralising for us to think our efforts are not valued by you.

Clive Hooper masterminded two holidays this year. A Tour to Cumbria and the History of Holland Tour. These holidays were expertly compiled to maximise interest and value, and if you visit our website you can see both photos and a report of each trip by a participant. Clive has sourced two trips for 2020. The overseas trip is to the Loire Valley. ( Felicity and I were there earlier this year, and Clive’s proposed itinerary is spot-on). The other trip is to Sussex, Kent and Surrey, with something for everyone. Thank you Clive. Your generosity of time and leadership not only gives huge pleasure to your fellow travellers, but also provides some welcome funds to our Centre.

We have timed the September Newsletter to coincide with annual Membership renewals and included advance AGM notice. This will save us rounds of postage, which, like the price of fuel, only ever seems to go up and depletes our hard-earned finances. Please spare a thought for Janet Bailey, our Membership Secretary. Renewal time makes for lot of work and Janet works diligently to ensure that records are up to date. You can all help her by responding quickly, writing clearly, and remembering that Janet is just one person, unpaid, with a sense of service and duty that should serve as a beacon to all. 

Earlier this month we had to cancel the planned Pig Roast at Croome Court. The support was, putting it mildly, pathetic. To those few of you who did book, thank you, and sorry we had to cancel. For the rest, and I must say, vast majority, we heard nothing. This event, and others that we had hoped to organise, (and now cancelled) were designed to reach out to your friends, neighbours and families. Unless The Centre finds ways to attract new members (and age demographic) to our work, then we will suffer the law of diminishing returns. Other Centres have already closed due to lack of interest and volunteers. Membership at many Centres is both ageing and shrinking in numbers. If your wish is the same as that of your dedicated Committee and helpers, then please HELP

I hope to see you at one of our Talks

David Ebsworth