Annual General Meeting

The Trust’s AGM is open to all members to attend.

We’re pleased to share information presented during our 2023 Annual General Meeting that took place on Friday 22 September. You can download papers and watch a recording of the 2023 meeting from the links below.

Our next Annual General Meeting is being held at the Adam Smith Theatre in Kirkcaldy at 11am on Friday 20 September 2024.

See the Adam Smith Theatre website for information on finding and accessing the venue.

Further information on the programme and meeting papers will be available in the summer.


Download the Trustees’ Annual Report and Financial Statements for the year ended 28 February 2023


Download the Minute of the Annual General Meeting held on 24 September 2022.

Recording of the 2023 AGM in Aberdeen


[Stephen Small]
Good morning everyone. Just as the last few members are taking their seats, I'll just give a quick admin announcement.
I think you've probably heard most of this sort of thing before. I'd like to remind everyone that the meeting today is both being recorded -- and we will replay it on our website -- and it's being broadcast live today as well.
No other recordings or photographs are permitted in the room.
Please could you switch off your phone or pop it onto silent? I just like to see everyone reaching in their pockets at that point!
And may I now introduce our Deputy Chair of our Board of Trustees, David Mitchell, who will start the meeting.

[David Mitchell]
Good morning everyone. I apologise for my slightly rawer brogue than normal. I had an encounter with laryngitis, but never mind.
It's wonderful to see so many people here.
I will just introduce myself and tell you that I'm David Mitchell, Deputy Chair of the National Trust for Scotland, and it's really wonderful to see so many people here and to welcome those of you watching online as well to our 92nd Annual General Meeting, which also happens to be the first annual general meeting we've run on a Friday, certainly in recent years.
Now, I'm here today in place of our chairman Sir Mark Jones, who has asked me to give his apologies as he's been detained by other matters, the circumstances of which you may well have read about in the recent media reports.
Sitting beside me are Phil Long, the Trust's Chief Executive; Lesley-Ann Logan, our Director of Finance; and Stephen Small, the Trust Secretary and Director of Legal and Governance. You'll be hearing from them throughout the course of the day.
Before we begin, I must mention that the proceedings are being recorded, so that we have a full and accurate record of the meeting.
To start the meeting, I would like to move quickly to the first vote, which concerns the minute of the Annual General Meeting held on 24 September 2022, which was staged in Glasgow online on Saturday 24 September 2022. A copy of the minute was available in advance of today's meeting and I hope that you've had time to study it.
All amendments already notified and not substantive in nature have already been incorporated into the minute. Before we move to the vote, can I ask if there are any other amendments?

[Stephen Small]
Before we do that David, can I express my thanks to our member Ann Stuart, who brought to my attention my deliberate typo -- I'm surprised no one else in the room has noticed this -- on Item 13 of the minute, which should read Annual General Meeting 2023, not 24. We were getting ahead of ourselves when we wrote that.

[David Mitchell]
We're always ahead of the game, Stephen ... or we like to try to be.
So, there are no further amendments to the minute ... I don't see any. Thank you.
On that basis, I'm about to ask for your vote to approve the minute.
Before I do that, as this is a hybrid meeting, I must explain that there are two ways to vote. For our Aberdeen audience, it's quite straightforward. But if you're watching us online via the UK Engage system, I'm afraid it's a little bit more complicated.
Once we have declared the voting open for each resolution, those of you in front of me just have to raise your hand to cast the vote.
For our members joining online, you'll be prompted to vote on screen, once each resolution is open, by a banner that will appear on the right-hand side of your screen. When told that voting for a particular resolution is about to close, if you haven't already done so, please cast your vote. Once the call for the final votes is made, voting will remain open on the resolution for about 30 seconds or so.
Members attending here today in Aberdeen had the opportunity to cast final votes in the Trustee election as they arrived this morning. Members who are attending virtually, who haven't yet cast their vote in the election, will have received a separate email from UK Engage instructing them how to do so. Voting on the Trustee election will close at 12:30 today, and we'll be subsequently notified of the result recorded online and this will be tallied up with those cast earlier in Aberdeen, by Stephen Small, the Trust Secretary.
We are now ready to finalise the voting on the first of today's resolutions, as I've mentioned, on approval of the minute of the 2022 Annual General Meeting, held in Glasgow and online on 24 September 2022.
Please can I have a proposer to accept the minutes? Thank you.
Please register your votes by both means now.

[Stephen Small]
So, those voting in favour, please raise your hands in the room. Thank you very much.
Anyone voting against ... thank you very much.
Ok, so that's carried in the room.
Now, during the meeting you might see me fiddle with my phone. That's not because I'm addicted to my phone, as my family think, but it's because the results of the online votes actually come to me in a little WhatsApp message. So there may be a moment -- I believe what's technically referred to as dead air -- as I wait 30 seconds to get those results, so please bear with me.

[David Mitchell]
Stephen said I should tell an appropriate joke at this point ...

[Stephen Small]
but David doesn't actually know any appropriate jokes!

[Phil Long]
The worry is it might be inappropriate!

[David Mitchell]
You said it, Phil!

[Stephen Small]
Ok, so if we could just close online and send me the results. Thank you very much. That has worked admirably well.
The vote is carried online as well. Thank you very much.

[David Mitchell]
Good. Now, those of you who are observant might have noticed that the Trust's President Jackie Bird is sitting waiting patiently in the wings.
Jackie was appointed as our president last year and she has done a magnificent job in representing the Trust by travelling to properties, meeting our staff and helping encourage very generous donations towards our conservation work. I may add, wherever I go this year, always I seem to be following in Jackie's wake. It's wonderful!
If, like me, you've had the pleasure of listening to the Love Scotland podcasts that Jackie presents on our behalf, you'll know what a consummate professional she is, and how brilliantly she conducts interviews to tease out fascinating stories of Scotland's historic and natural places.
Those of you who were lucky enough to get tickets will, after the AGM, see this for yourself, as she conducts a live interview with the award-winning writer and historian Alistair Moffat and our very own Head of Archaeology, Derek Alexander.
If you can't attend, never fear as the interview is being recorded as an episode of the new, up-and-coming season of Love Scotland.
Although Jackie has now left the BBC News, she's never really been off our screens for long and she still hosts BBC's Children in Need and makes other regular appearances. And that is another reason why we have been so grateful to Jackie for taking on the role of President, given how busy she is.
Now, the reason why I'm chairing the meeting at the moment and not Jackie is that under the Trust's founding act, our president must be elected or re-elected each year at our annual general meeting.
I am delighted to say that Jackie has volunteered to remain as president, and I and my fellow Trustees have no hesitation in recommending to you that she continues in that role. I deliberately emphasised that Jackie has volunteered to do this, as this is indeed a voluntary role -- one which has no formal operational responsibility but is nevertheless very important in an ambassadorial sense.
Also, if you ratify Jackie's appointment today, it will mean that I can, with a little light relief, hand the chair over to Jackie for the rest of the meeting.
The Board of Trustees has no hesitation in recommending that Jackie Bird be reappointed as President of the National Trust for Scotland with effect from today.
Those in the hall, please indicate if you approve of the resolution to reappoint Jackie Bird as President. Those online, please follow the banner prompt on your screen to register your vote either for or against the resolution.

[Stephen Small]
So, those in favour in the hall, please raise your hands. Thank you very much.
And any against? Thank you very much.
And again, we'll wait until we get the results from the online voting. That's clearly carried in the hall.
I will check my Instagram feed ...

[David Mitchell]
The wonders of modern technology.

[Stephen Small]
I think I used the Instagram joke last year.

[David Mitchell]
Actually, you did use it.

[Stephen Small]
I did use it last year, but we're an environmental charity so I think recycling is ok!

[David Mitchell]
Well, it could be. Digital recycling -- I like the idea.

[Stephen Small]
No single-use jokes. Ok. I think if we can just close that and pass over the results.
And that's clearly in favour online as well, so the resolution is carried.

[David Mitchell]
The resolution is carried. I think that deserves a round of applause, thank you.
Thank you. The record shows that Jackie Bird has been duly reelected as president of the National Trust for Scotland.
It is now my great pleasure to turn control of the meeting over to Jackie. Jackie, over to you.

[Jackie Bird]
Thank you, David. Thank you, Phil. Oh, thank you for that. Thank you very much, David. That is surprisingly nerve-wracking. To all of you who voted against or any of you who voted against, I didn't look -- I promise! But thank you very much.
Last time when I was elected president, they sat me beside the exit just in case. And I thought this year, perhaps I'll be moving into the body of the kirk. No. They sat me beside the exit just in case, so thank you once again.
For me, very briefly, it has been a wonderful year. It's been a year of learning about the scope and scale of the properties and policies and the activities generally of the National Trust for Scotland. David, who has been with the Trust for a couple of years longer than I have, said that every time he goes to a property, he learns something. And if he doesn't, there's something wrong. So, my goodness, I have a lot to learn.
But I think what I have learned so far is just the Trust is all about people. Although we look after grand buildings and tenement houses and cottages, it's all about the stories of the people. I've been lucky enough to find out about many of those stories through the podcast Love Scotland and it's all about the hidden gems.
Can I just put a shout out for Hill of Tarvit, which is not so very far away, in Fife. Have any of you travelled to Hill of Tarvit? It's a wonderful, wonderful Edwardian mansion house. I know you have more than your fair share of wonderful houses and gardens here, but, as I say, please try to search out those hidden gems.
So, great to be in Aberdeen. The sun always shines in Aberdeen, does it not? You are gifted with so many wonderful buildings, and this grand building. I half expect to see more people arrive in this room shortly, who have maybe gone to the toilet, because I tell you -- I don't know how many of you have got your step counters but you've certainly got them up in this building today!
So, once again thank you very much for that vote of confidence. We've got a lot to get through, so let's get on with some business.
As you've heard, there'll be a number of presentations today, some of which will receive formal proposals which, as you've just experienced, will require a vote.
We've also built in two Question & Answer sessions. For the first, we'll prioritise pre-submitted questions; we have received some by email and some submitted in old-style writing, by audience members both here in Aberdeen earlier this morning and outwith the area. The second session, an interesting one, will be based fully on questions that you submit live today, so hopefully we'll give you lots of food for thought that may elicit a few queries of your own. We can take those questions in person, or if you're online, all you have to do is type them in through the Q&A function of the online software that you're watching me through this very moment.
My children would have such a laugh that I am trying to instruct anyone in technology, but I'll do my best. There is a bar at the bottom of your screen. There's a double speech bubble symbol slightly to the left of the centre, marked Q&A. Click on this to bring up a dialogue box, into which you can type any questions throughout the meeting. The Q&A which pertains to the questions that you're going to submit live will be later this morning. I'd also like to say please don't click on the chat symbol instead of the Q&A symbol when you want to submit a question, as that will result in us being unable to see what you've typed. I don't know who you hook up with if you do hit the chat button, but may your God go with you on that one.
If you're posing a question online, please remember to include your name for our formal record of the meeting. If you don't include this, I'm afraid we won't be able to deal with the question. And if you're asking a question in person at the venue, likewise please state your name for the same reason.
Trust staff are compiling the questions received and we'll try to respond to as many as we can. I will read out the pre-submitted and online questions on your behalf.
So, let's run through what the meeting will have in store. We'll begin with the formal annual review of the performance of 2022/23. That's the financial year that ended on 28 February. The chief executive Phil Long will be up first and his presentation will include a video.
He in turn will be followed by the Director of Finance, Lesley-Ann Logan, who will be doing the money thing with the numbers.
And then there will be a statement from our external auditor, followed by that first Q&A session, followed by the third vote of the day. The fourth, fifth and sixth votes will be applied successively to the re-election of external auditors, the re-election of Vice-Presidents and then a proposal to change the price of an Ordinary membership subscription.
We'll then have a further presentation, which is particular to Aberdeenshire, and I am so very much looking forward to this: it's by Chris Wardle, Gardens and Designed Landscapes Manager for the North East. So, if you've wandered through these gardens, maybe wondered who's in charge of all of that, then he is the genius. Chris will be talking to us, giving us an insight into the magnificent gardens cared for by the Trust in your glorious corner of the world.
And I can vouch for that, having spent a wonderful day at the opening of the Rose Garden at Crathes Castle. Have you managed to get there yet? Not many, not many. It's a joy, so please do if you can. That was made possible by the thoughtful and generous legacy left by the late Professor Ian Young and his wife Sylvia. Sylvia passed away very recently, so our sincere condolences to her family.
Following this, there will be that second open Q&A session and then the results of the ballot for the election of new Trustees, after which we will aim to complete the meeting at around 1.15pm. I hope you've got that and memorised it.
For those of you here in Aberdeen, that will mean a break for lunch and to follow, as David mentioned, I'll be hosting a special recording of the eternally popular podcast Love Scotland with author Alistair Moffat -- I'm sure many of you know -- and Derek Alexander, the National Trust for Scotland's own Indiana Jones -- he hates when I say that! We're also going to have a bit of a musical accompaniment with Iona Fyfe, who was a finalist in the BBC's Young Traditional Musician of the Year.
So that's your overview. We now turn though to the next item on the agenda, which is to review the Trust's performance over the last complete financial year 22/23.
I'd like to invite Phil, the Trust's Chief Executive to take to the stand. I don't know how that sounds -- 'take to the stand'. As part of his presentation, Phil will introduce a video that depicts some of the extraordinary work carried out by the Trust's volunteers and staff over the last year. Phil.

[Phil Long]
Jackie, thank you very much and very nice to see you all. A very warm welcome to Aberdeen and to the Trust's Annual General Meeting. I greatly appreciate you joining us, whether you're here in the room or you're online.
Our Annual General Meeting is always an important moment in the Trust calendar. It's when we can report to our members on our performance, talk about future plans, hear your views and answer your questions. There's a great deal to update on, and our work, of course, happens across all of Scotland.
And so we made a film to show you this, to give you the best possible overview. You'll see that in just a moment, but before that, I do just want to say a few words of introduction.
Today we're also launching our Annual Report and Financial Statements, and our Annual Review -- crucial documents. The first goes into that detailed and audited analysis of the Trust's performance over the last financial year. The second describes and celebrates the work that we've been undertaking to care for so much of Scotland's wonderful heritage that we are so proud to be responsible for, and what we're doing to help people -- as many as possible -- enjoy and be inspired by that heritage that is theirs. There are copies of these documents for everybody today. You may have them on your seats. There are certainly copies for you all to take away to get into the real detail of what the Trust has been doing and how it's been performing.
Our Annual Review sets out our work according to our 10-year plan: Nature, Beauty and Heritage for Everyone. That plan is organised under three pillars of conservation, engagement and sustainability. We're just over one year into this new strategy and it's certainly helping greatly to steer us forward and keep us on track in our ambitions, even when events outwith our control, whether storm damage to our places, which was felt particularly at our properties in Aberdeenshire, or whether it's inflated costs or continuing uncertainty as a consequence of the pandemic and wider world events continue to put challenges in our way.
The film you're about to see will go into our achievements in a degree of detail. We can never describe everything that happens across the work of the Trust, but I hope from it that you agree that there continues to be much to do and the work of the Trust can never be truly done.
We can be rightly proud of what we have achieved in the last year since we last reported to you.
You'll also be rightly interested in knowing about our finances and our wider business performance. The Trust must be a sustainable organisation for it to continue with its obligations to care for so much of Scotland's heritage. And, as an independent charity that depends on your support, we want you to be confident in our business being well-managed. Our Financial Director Lesley-Ann Logan, who I'm very pleased has recently joined the Trust, will be talking to you about that shortly. And of course, very full details can be found in our published accounts, which are also available online.
But for the moment, I'm pleased to say that the Trust has been performing well since the COVID pandemic, with visitor numbers from March--July of this year (of 2023) at 90% of 2019 levels for that period. That means they're ahead of our budget and close to our position that we might call full recovery. This has helped greatly a strong financial performance so far this year, again very close to pre-COVID levels.
This has owed very much, I think, to developments that we've been making in our business, the culture of our organisation and through the support that we receive as we strengthen the understanding of our important charitable cause.
In all of this, we're especially grateful to you, our members, for continuing to be such loyal supporters of the National Trust for Scotland. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.

[Film plays, narrated by Phil Long]
Hello everyone. Thank you so much for joining us for today's Annual General Meeting.
Very pleased to see you here, whether online or in person, and I'm pleased to be speaking to you today from one of our most instantly recognisable places: the beautiful Craigievar Castle.
As you can see, the building is under scaffold while it's being made pink again. Replacing the harling on this famously pink castle has been one of our key conservation tasks this year. To say it's a painstaking piece of work is an understatement. Building the scaffold alone took three months. Fitting the structure around these historic turrets was no easy task, and then we've been accommodating the needs of the resident wildlife too, creating a house martin hotel for these special summer visitors. In between all of this, we've been reinvigorating its pink tones with multiple coats of a special recipe of limewash, carrying out roof and masonry repairs, and taking the opportunity to look after the ornate internal plasterwork too.
It's been fantastic to give visitors the chance to see all of this conservation in action with popular hard hat tours that have run through the summer. This work has all been made possible because of you, our valued supporters. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our Pink Again appeal. We're very excited indeed to see the scaffolding start to come down -- and yes, this does take another three months. Craigievar will be ready to welcome you all once more and looking radiant.
This is just one of the many conservation projects we've undertaken over the past year, which was the first full year of our ten-year strategy: Nature, Beauty and Heritage for Everyone. As you may recall, this was launched in March 2022 and was something of a fresh start for us all, giving us a clear focus and impetus. And so I want to talk through some of our key achievements over the past year, which I'm delighted to say has been distinguished by openings, acquisitions and transformations of the places, collections and landscapes we're proud to care for.
We are a charity like no other, responsible for the protection of natural and cultural heritage across the country. Everyone can benefit from our work and our cause, and so it's wonderful to welcome people back again at our places across the whole of Scotland. As the threat of the pandemic has receded, people are returning to our places to enjoy all that they offer. Our visitor numbers, while not yet at 2019 levels, are increasing: 3.6 million people chose to spend time with us throughout the year and I'm also delighted to report that our membership numbers have been growing too. So, one year into our strategy, I'm very pleased to tell you, our valued members, that the Trust is more confident and our progress is positive.
There's no doubt your support has been absolutely critical in this, so please accept my sincere thanks for this.
All our work is shaped around our three pillars of conservation, engagement and sustainability. We care for Scotland's special places; we provide access and enjoyment for everyone; and we work on making our charity sustainable. That's a broad remit, and across Scotland our teams have been working hard and making progress in all of these areas. As we complete projects and start work in other areas, we continue to champion the care of Scotland's heritage for the benefit of all, now and for future generations.
Major projects completed in the past year include the reopening of House of the Binns at the start of April. It was a great pleasure to unlock the doors once again and welcome visitors for the first time since before the pandemic. Built for butter merchant Thomas Dalyell in 1612, the country house has been the Dalyell family home for centuries and holds over 4,000 artefacts. This fascinating collection gives glimpses into the history of the house, the family, Scotland and its place in the world over four centuries.
We've cared for House of the Binns since 1944. Our recent Bringing Back the Binns project demonstrates well, I believe, our commitment to improving the condition of our heritage buildings, many of which have been in our care for approaching a hundred years now. At the Binns, this meant a huge programme of work, which started in 2022. The whole collection remained on site during the restoration project and was moved around with great skill to enable the work to take place. Lesley Scott, the National Trust for Scotland's Regional Conservator, oversaw the movement and safe interim storage of the collection, making sure the greatest care was taken. Each piece was carefully condition-checked, dusted, checked for signs of pests and mould, and then labelled and packed for short-term storage and dust prevention. Over the following months, major repairs were carried out on the roof, and rooms were redecorated using period-appropriate colours and finishes. Our expert curators, in close discussion with Kathleen Dalyell, who I'm pleased to say continues to live in the house, advised on wallpapers and curtains. Our work to bring back the Binns has been a real privilege for the Trust. We feel very honoured to have that responsibility for such a beautiful place, so intertwined with centuries of Scotland's history, and we know visitors are very much enjoying the experience.
In the Highlands, our new Corrieshalloch Gorge Gateway to Nature was completed, providing sensitively designed visitor facilities and over 800 metres of new pathways to allow visitors to discover previously unseen parts of the spectacular nature reserve, while also protecting the flora and fauna around the site. Four new viewing points provide different perspectives on the stunning scenery of the 100-metre deep box canyon. There's a takeaway cafe and covered outdoor seating area, toilets and a new car park. Blue and grey waste disposal facilities are available for touring vans. We also worked hard on embedding sustainable design features, with air source heat pumps, electric vehicle charging, rainwater harvesting and grey water recycling.
It's a very impressive project that's already having a positive impact on the site. We are very grateful for the funding that made this project possible, including almost £1.3 million from the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund, which is led by NatureScot and part-funded through the European Regional Development Fund; the generous support from players of the People's Postcode Lottery; and of course, the ongoing generous support and commitment of our members and other supporters.
It was also incredibly exciting to make our first major acquisition since 2015. The Treshnish Isles are a group of eight uninhabited islands and many more skerries, located in the Inner Hebrides to the west of Mull. The entire archipelago is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Sadly, I couldn't visit in the summer as planned when we made this announcement, as the weather refused to co-operate, but I know that the islands are full of flora and fauna, especially seabirds -- with almost too many species to mention to be found there. The marine environment surrounding the islands is part of the Sea of the Hebrides Marine Protected Area due to the presence of basking sharks and minke whales, and you can also find bottlenose and common dolphins as well as grey seals. Its human history is no less impressive, with habitation traced back to the Vikings. The islands have also featured in the work of important Scottish artists like F C B Cadell and S J Peploe.
We're incredibly proud to have taken on the role of protecting these islands from the Hebridean Trust, and we'd like to thank our ever-generous National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA, who supported this acquisition, continuing their strong tradition of American support for conservation in this part of Scotland.
These successes help grow our charity's confidence and resilience in helping to tackle the challenges our world faces, in particular the climate and nature crises. Over the last year, properties were badly affected across our estate by extreme weather events, such as the successive storms Arwen, Malik and Corrie bringing down trees, damaging buildings and having a devastating effect on natural life and habitat. Our teams have responded bravely to these emergencies throughout, all the while working on a range of pioneering nature-based projects to address the difficulties we face. We're incredibly grateful to the many who responded to our emergency appeals as we sought to recover from these unplanned and sadly increasingly common events.
As a conservation charity, we are of course committed to doing our bit to mitigate the impacts of these crises which affect everyone, everywhere. We've completed a further new project to restore habitat on the Mar Lodge Estate in the heart of the Cairngorms, one of Scotland's most sublime landscapes. The water course through the long Geldie valley there is rising in temperature, threatening the wildlife that makes it its home. With further generous support, we've planted along the Geldie Burn over 100,000 native tree species in fenced enclosures over an area equivalent to the size of nearly 170 football pitches, which in time will provide essential shade to protect species to whom this habitat is vital. This project has already also restored 180 acres of peatland so far and there's more work coming on this to save this vital resource in combatting climate change over the next two years.
We continue to monitor the health of seabird populations, many of which are sadly in decline due to the devastation of avian flu and other suspected factors, such as food availability and potentially climate change. It's fair to say that for our dedicated teams based at our key seabird sites, summer 2022 was a really difficult one. The avian flu outbreak affected many of our sites, and our rangers were essentially on the front line of this -- reporting deaths, helping to ensure they and our visitors stayed safe, and ensuring that all possible steps were taken to prevent further infection. In 2023 the pattern has been different. So while our places have seen less of an impact this year, the threat does remain. This vital and challenging work has been supported by our members through our appeal, and most generously by the singular commitment of two of our most generous Patrons: Tim and Kim Allan.
Our charity may be best known for its beautiful places, but contained within our buildings are wonderful collections of art, design, archives and artefacts that are just as rich and certainly vast in number. Protecting such heritage is of course just as vital as caring for our buildings and landscapes. In the past year we were proud to be part of a consortium from across the UK, led by the Friends of the National Libraries, which worked together to secure for the nation the Blavatnik Honresfield Library, priceless in its significance to British literary heritage. From this, 12 precious manuscripts by Robert Burns, Scotland's national Bard, have now joined our collections. Among them are letters written by Burns, poems and songs. All give further insight into the creative process of Scotland's most famous poet, and they join more than 5,000 Burns-related items in our care at our Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway. It would not be an overstatement to say that the opening of the Homecoming exhibition, which put these pieces on show to the public for the first time in decades, was one of my personal highlights of the year. Once again, thanks are due to all who contributed to the call for donations,which saved these pieces for the nation.
We're also continuing our efforts to engage with new and more diverse audiences. In 2021 the Trust developed a new formal learning strategy, which set out how we'd re-engage with learners after the pandemic. One of the first projects was Timesliders, a dynamic theatre-based approach to learning which teaches Scotland's history through the adventures of fictional time-travellers Kyla and Eden. The programme involves theatre, podcasts and a problem-solving property visit. The experience is so immersive that the pupils don't realise they're using numeracy, literacy and teamworking skills! We're delighted that a total of 378 learners took part, and the feedback was fantastic. Some of the teachers said it was the best schools programme they'd ever been involved in. High praise indeed.
We also continued, along with partners, our Young Scot £1 entry offer. It was fantastic to see more young people taking advantage of this after the past few years of disruption, and I know it will be a source of Aberdeenshire pride that the area's castles -- Crathes, Castle Fraser, Fyvie and Drum -- are in the top five of all of our properties visited by Young Scot card holders. It's great to know that the next generation of National Trust for Scotland supporters are getting involved with their heritage, helped to do so in this way.
As well as widening access to our collections, we're also helping visitors understand more about the people at our places in the past. Our ongoing Facing our Past project researches the legacies of slavery in Scotland as part of the wider extensive research we undertake across the many historical subjects we're concerned with. Over the past year, we've held some events intended to explore some of the stories uncovered, such as our project at Pollok House that focused on the property's links to Jamaica. A session at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow considered the challenges of archival research, while an evening of rum tasting and Caribbean music and dance was really enjoyed by staff and people of Caribbean heritage living in Glasgow. These unique and enjoyable opportunities help our charity to build stronger community relationships, support learning about the truth of our past, and understand different perspectives. All of this is vital in helping the National Trust for Scotland meet its commitment to truly be for everyone.
As I've already mentioned, climate change, its impacts and mitigation are increasingly at the heart of much of our charity's work. This is true of the activities and projects that happen at the special places in our care, but it also applies to how we work as a charity, employer and part of civic Scotland. This means that, along with everyone else, we need to make changes that will reduce our own impact through the way we work, how our buildings are heated and how we, with staff and volunteers based all over Scotland, get around in the least impactful way. Work is already happening to reduce our carbon footprint, and many of our properties and estates are taking positive steps to mitigate the effects of climate change. To streamline this and drive momentum, we're now developing an organisation-wide strategy. We have a new Climate and Environment group with representatives from across the organisation, who will help guide the changes that are needed. We're also starting to calculate the carbon emissions of our buildings and operations, staff travel, our supply chain and our investments. Once we have a baseline, we can determine how we can cut emissions and work with nature-based solutions to capture them. In future, this will help us to make better climate-informed decisions, so our plan will underpin much of what we do and will be owned by many across the Trust.
People and especially our volunteers are at the heart of the Trust. Earlier this year, as part of National Volunteers Week, we showcased the many and varied roles that these dedicated people carry out for our charity. From the gardens of (where else!) Aberdeenshire to the meeting rooms of our offices, these invaluable colleagues contribute their time, expertise, skills and enthusiasm to the Trust. We offer a heartfelt thank you to everyone that donates their time to our cause.
We've been delighted to appoint Jackie Bird, the renowned journalist, broadcaster and committed friend of the Trust as our new president. Since Jackie's appointment at the 2022 Annual General Meeting, we've been fortunate to have her support across many key events, helping us to engage with a broader audience and communicate our work more effectively. And of course, under her expert guidance, our Love Scotland podcast goes from strength to strength, winning new listeners and industry awards. I'm very pleased that we're putting on our first-ever podcast live event as part of today's programme.
We're very pleased to welcome too the marine expert and intrepid explorer Cal Major, as our first volunteer ambassador. We first met Cal when she came to talk at a staff event in November last year. Her passion for Scotland's seas and our nation's environment bowled us all over, and we're so pleased that she's agreed to take on this new role. Cal will speak passionately about Scotland's nature, beauty and heritage which doesn't have a voice and help our charity to gain even greater support for our work, to protect and share it all with everyone.
We remain grateful to our Patron, the former Duke of Rothesay, and of course from 8 September 2022 His Majesty King Charles III, for his support of our charity and his deep interest in nature and heritage, and their regenerative power.
Since 1931, the National Trust for Scotland has been an organisation which has spoken up for the importance of conservation and nature, and the significance of heritage in everybody's lives. Given all we've been through the last few years and the uncertainty ahead, the protection of our environment for its own sake and for our wellbeing, for our communities, for our society and our economy has never been more important. Our charity's work can only be achieved thanks to our wonderful staff, volunteers, Trustees, committee members and generous supporters -- including you, our members. As I hope I've outlined to you today, a very great deal has been achieved in the past year. We look forward to sharing with you much more in the future as we continue our work to care, share and speak up for Scotland's magnificent heritage. Thank you once again for joining us today and for your support in all we do.

[Jackie Bird]
Thank you very much for that, Phil. So much information there. There's so very much to be proud of.
Perhaps it's prompted some questions from people in the room or from anyone at home. You know what to do, but hold onto them for the moment because we are about to go to our next presentation.
This comes from Lesley-Ann Logan, Director of Finance. Lesley-Ann has only been with the Trust since July and has kindly stepped into the breach today as Kat Brown, the Chief Operating Officer, who would normally give the presentation is unfortunately ill and can't join us, so welcome, Lesley-Ann.

[Lesley-Ann Logan]
Thank you, Jackie. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
Nature, beauty and heritage for everyone. To achieve this, we need a strong financial base. This means we can afford to maintain all our wonderful places.
Last year, the Trust's Chief Operating Officer Kat Brown reported to you on the Trust's journey to recovery after the COVID pandemic. Today, as the Trust's brand new Finance Director, I'm delighted to stand in for Kat here in Aberdeen and report to you on the continuing progress in the Trust's finances. I'll now take you through the Trust's route to recovery.
If we look at the highlights of the last financial year 2022/23, here are some of the key numbers, which we'll review in more detail shortly.
82% of memberships remained with the Trust, in line with last year.
Total income of £57.8 million, a 17.5% increase.
Total expenditure of £65.6 million, a 16% increase,and that led to a total net deficit of £7.8 million before losses on investments. This compares to a planned net deficit of £11.1 million, so we're actually doing better than planned.
It was a year of challenges and uncertainty. It was a year of planned change and recovery. And overall, we performed very well. We have exceeded our expectations and have beaten our budget.
Our members, as ever, are vital to us and I'm delighted to report that membership numbers have again risen, year on year. At the end of February 2023, we had around 317,000 registered members, who contributed £17 million in membership income -- our largest single source of revenue. Our strong financial recovery post-COVID has largely been driven by the continued generous support of our members.
There were 3.8 million visitors in 2022/23, compared to 2.2 million the previous year.
Sorry, this clicker is not performing at the moment -- we need to move to the next slide. Ah, there. So, we can see the positive effect ... actually, I want to go back -- my apologies for that.
We can see the positive effect of this recovery here. This slide shows the journey from 2019/20 through the difficulties of the COVID pandemic and recovery in 21/22 and 22/23. The red bars show income and the blue bars are expenditure. Income in 22/23 is back up to 97% of the pre-COVID level; expenditure follows the same direction. More on that later. This is driven by the return of international visitors and a willingness of domestic holiday-makers to enjoy our beautiful properties, even when times are hard. That means a lot to us.
Looking at income, we've earned more than planned. Total income for the year was £57.8 million, almost 18% increase on the previous year. You'll see a graph here with bars for each of the eight main income sources. The pink bars represent 22/23 values and the green bars represent the prior year 21/22. Those colours are on the next three slides. Overall income increased by £8.6 million or 18% to £58 million for the year.
I'll highlight a few of the income sources. The biggest driver was an increase in commercial income, up £5 million to £14.2 million as we welcomed visitors, both domestic and overseas, to our properties. Income from memberships was £17 million, down slightly from £17.9 million the previous year because that had included a catch-up in the historic Gift Aid collection. Income from appeals and donations of £3.6 million is £0.7 million more than in the previous year. Legacy income, by its very nature unpredictable, totalled £7.2 million in 22/23. This is an increase of £2.2 million or 44% on 21/22. As always, we are enormously grateful to everyone who makes a provision for the Trust in their Will.
After memberships, our next largest source of income is commercial income. As you can see with these pink bars, all of our commercial income revenue sources show increases over the previous year. Introduction of new products and the ability to open most properties for the whole season had a very positive impact on trade in our shops and cafes. We've negotiated a national supplier for our cafes. This has reduced our costs without compromising on quality, and of course we also source products from our valued local suppliers too. We've introduced new menus at many of our properties, and we've launched the Nadar coffee brand so you'll be able to enjoy the same delicious coffee to go with your cake across our cafes. We also saw growth of £0.5 million in income from our holiday cottages -- to £1.8 million -- and a doubling of revenue from functions, to £600,000.
Turning now to expenses, in 22/23 we spent £65.6 million. That's £15.3 million or 30% more than in the previous year. The bulk of this increased spend is made up of £10.5 million across properties and conservation. A cost rise of almost £4 million on commercial activities sits alongside the increased income in this sector, whilst maintaining gross margins. Taking our expenditure away from our income gives us a deficit of £7.8 million before investment losses. This is an improvement on the planned deficit of £11.1 million for 22/23. We are pleased that the planned recovery continues.
Regarding our investments, as we know, it's been a volatile year, both politically and economically. This has been reflected in the value of our investments, which ended the year £8.3 million lower than at the start of the year. Two points to note: firstly, this is largely a paper loss. We've seen the value of our investments partly recover over this summer. Secondly, we now have a more diversified portfolio than before. Our funds are invested across different products and sectors, which protect the assets in a downturn. The loss would have been far greater had we not taken this new investment approach last year.
Taking all of this into account, we've reported a net deficit of £16.1 million for 22/23. This was funded by a combination of general funds and restricted reserves. Our reserves, which we call our General Income Fund, stood at £50 million in February and remains higher than the target value of £33.2 million. We had planned for this to happen. We've employed more staff at our properties and developed our retail and cafe offerings. We're upgrading our holiday cottages for you to enjoy, perhaps the newly refurbished Holly Leaf Cottage at Drum Castle here in the North East. We've invested in our IT. We're continuing to spend on new capital projects as well as essential building maintenance and conservation work.
On the negative side, we are experiencing the impact of global price pressures on our costs, both current and future. Inflationary increases have been anticipated and are included in our budget planning. This is affecting our members, visitors and staff too. We're well aware of the choices many have to make on how to spend their money, so we're doing everything we can to make visits to our properties special for you.
In my very short time so far with the Trust, I've been privileged to visit a number of special places. Last month I visited St Abb's Head and learned about the important work monitoring the seabird population and the threats they face. I've also had the chance to visit Robert Smail's in Innerleithen, Greenbank Garden, and both the Georgian House and Culzean. An appreciation of work on the ground and the visitor experience helps me to better support the Trust in forward financial planning.
Now turning to the present. This financial year, we have a total income target of £62.5 million, and we are currently on track with this. Total visitor numbers, March to August 22/23, at 2.7 million are 5% higher than planned and 32% up on the same period in 2022. We are experiencing further growth in line with our rolling three-year budget plan. There are challenges ahead however, over which we have little or no control, such as climate change and the impact of global inflation. The economic outlook continues to be uncertain. The cost-of-living crisis may impact our visitor numbers, and the economic policies to address this are still unfolding. There are challenges in some areas of recruitment, which impacts our ability to have premises open as long as we would like. This continues to affect the broader hospitality sector. This is a rapidly changing environment, which needs caution and careful navigation.
To do this, we have a resilient financial plan to meet current and future challenges. We can influence areas under our control. We're making some important investments behind the scenes to support the visitor experience. In IT, we're spending on internet connectivity. A man in a van, as we speak, is driving around the Trust estate, installing Wi-Fi in some of our remotest properties. Visitors can then share their amazing visit with friends, upload photos, and check the time of the next bus or train. Trust staff will be able to work from regional hubs, which in turn reduces our carbon footprint. In our cafes, shops and hospitality sector, we've chosen new suppliers, and new and exciting products. We've upgraded the holiday cottages for you to enjoy. This not only conserves them but brings in greater revenue, which goes straight back into the Trust.
We're also spending on making the charity more resilient and well-managed. In Finance, we've established a dedicated team to partner with our regions and Central services to provide better information for decision making. In Project Management, we've created a standard framework, which will enable us to manage the complex investments in our properties. In Data Protection, we're spending money to ensure we continue to be compliant with relevant law and to protect the Trust against cyber crime. In Governance, we administered £7 million of legacies income last year, which will in turn lead to further investment income. We held the first hybrid AGM and elections in 2022 -- so successful, it's happening here again today.
We'll continue to focus on work that is aligned with achieving our strategic goals. We'll look at priorities and ensure that all ongoing committed work and obligations are met. We'll strive to achieve a balance between managing our finances for the present, whilst retaining a pipeline of exciting projects for the longer term. We'll continue to identify and implement financial and operational efficiencies. We'll strengthen our financial base so that we can continue to care for and protect nature, beauty and heritage for everyone. As ever, we thank you, our members, for your support.

[Jackie Bird]
Thank you very much, Lesley-Ann. We're going to keep those numbers coming at you because the next presentation, which is pre-recorded, is from Andy Shaw of the Trust's external auditors AAB Audit Limited to present their statement for the Trust accounts for the year ended February 2023.

[Film recording of Andy Shaw]
Hello. I'm Andy Shaw, an audit partner at AAB and auditor to the National Trust for Scotland. I'm pleased to be with you today to provide a statement on the Trust's Annual Report and Financial Statements.
The audit for the year ended 28 February 2023 was the first year for AAB as auditor, and the audit team and myself are appreciative for the support and time of the members of the Trust's Finance team during the audit process.
The responsibilities of AAB as auditor are set out in the Auditor's Report within the Financial Statements document. Our objectives are to obtain a reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error. Reasonable assurance is a high level of assurance but it is not a guarantee. It is the responsibility of the Trustees to prepare the financial statements in such a way that they are free from material misstatement and give a true and fair view. In performing the external audit, we need to assess which areas of the financial statements are most at risk of material misstatement, and specifically focus our work to those areas. The areas which we focused upon were as follows: income recognition fraud risk -- that income is recognised in the correct period; the valuation of the Trust's investments; completeness of the Trust's property-related liabilities; and management override of controls fraud risk. This last risk is common in any audit and is not specific to the National Trust for Scotland.
Across all of these areas, we have concluded that the financial statements are materially appropriately stated; the accounting policies are appropriate; and there are no unadjusted audit misstatements which could have a material impact.
Another area covered within the Auditor's Report is the extent to which the audit is capable of detecting irregularities, including fraud. Irregularities are instances of non-compliance with laws and regulations. The Auditor's Report sets out AAB's approach to identifying the relevant legal and regulatory frameworks,and how we consider which areas are most at risk of non-compliance. There are no material matters to bring to your attention.
The Trustees have prepared the financial statements on a going-concern basis, meaning that the financial statements have been prepared on the assumption that the Trust has sufficient funds for the next 12 months to meet liabilities as they fall due. As auditor, we have to review the financial forecast for the next 12 months and the financial position of the Trust, such as considering the cash and investment balances that the trusts hold. We concur that the financial statements should be prepared on a going-concern basis, having challenged and assessed the forecast.
On behalf of AAB, I have issued an unqualified audit opinion, which states that the financial statements give a true and fair view of the state of the Trust's affairs as at 28 February 2023; and of its incoming resources and application resources for the year. I state that the financial statements have been properly prepared in accordance with UK generally accepted accounting practice and have been prepared in accordance with the requirements of the Charities and Trustee Investment Act and Regulation 8 of the Charities Accountants Regulations.
In providing an opinion on the financial statements, we must be independent. I confirm that myself and AAB are independent of the National Trust for Scotland.
That concludes the areas for me to cover, with a key takeaway being the unqualified audit opinion. Thank you for listening and I wish you well with the remainder of the AGM.

[Jackie Bird]
Thank you very much to Andy there. That comes as a great relief to us all. We now come to our first question and answer session.
As I mentioned, this will cover pre-submitted questions. I will read the questions, paraphrasing if necessary, grouping some together if they are similar. I'll ask the boss to respond or to nominate another person to do so.
So, first question -- it comes from David Chalmers and it concerns Sailors' Walk in Kirkcaldy.
In the summer edition of the magazine, there's an item saying there's to be open meetings at Sailors' Walk in Kirkcaldy, which has been a Trust property since about the 1950s. Apparently, this hasn't been used over these years, and David has two questions. Firstly, why has it not been used for something, even if not open to the public? And are there other properties that the Trust has that are not being used, and if so, why is some use not being made of them? Phil.

[Phil Long]
David, thanks very much for your question. Sailors' Walk is a rather wonderful building. If you drive along the harbour front of Kirkcaldy, you will see it. It also has some rather special interiors, painted ceilings in fact. Over the years, it has been used for a number of purposes. It has different spaces that can accommodate different uses. We've been looking in particular at this building recently, and we have been doing some restoration and conservation work on it. We're pleased to be able to say that we now have some tenants there; two tenants, one an artist, in the building. There will be an open day for the property, which will be on 21 October from 11 to 4. And so you will be able to visit inside as well as see it from outside.
The other question is are there other buildings that we have that are not open to the public? Yes, we do; very many in fact. We have over 100 (about 112) non-visited properties. Why do we have that many? How do they come to us? Well, there's a wide range of reasons. Some have been gifted to us. Fairly recently, we were left a house in Glasgow in Mirrlees Drive, and we're currently assessing how that might be used, what might be the best use for it for the Trust in the future. And we're investing money that came with that very kind gift to do some essential maintenance work to the roof very shortly. Other houses that we have, we may let and that enables us to continue to care for them and put them to use. Some we will turn into holiday cottages at our places, and we hope to continue to build the portfolio of holiday cottages that we have, which enable a great way of spending time at our properties.
Now, all of these buildings need to take their place in the queue for resources. 112 buildings is as many as the places that we open to the public, so it's always a question of available resources. In fact, we have over 2,000 structures of varying forms across the estate, and greater regulation, inflated building costs make that harder for us to deal with those. But we'll continue to pay close attention to those buildings that are not always possible to see, and are not right to open to the public, to make sure that we're dealing with them in the most appropriate way possible.

[Jackie Bird]
Thank you very much. Next question comes from Michael and Christine Turner -- it regards Malleny House.
In March we attended a small meeting of Plant Heritage, held in Malleny House. As I recall from past visits, the house was a private residence and never open, so it was interesting to see the interior. Michael and Christine go on to talk about the house, about its occupancy and about the use of the garden there. In all, they're curious about the future of this property.

[Phil Long]
Michael and Christine, thank you. We have recently begun work to refurbish Malleny House and, in fact, just a couple of weeks ago at our management meeting, we approved further investment in that, which will make sure that the external fabric of the building is put to good repair, to make sure that it's wind- and water-tight for years to come. While we're doing that work, we are going to be planning the refurbishment of the interiors. On its use, the gift of the building to the Trust required it to be used as a residence, and so that will remain our aim after the works are completed. It requires some much-needed investment but we hope that, as allowable within that specified use, we will be able to periodically be able to provide some access for tours and possibly some community use in the larger-scale, more public, slightly later period buildings that are attached to it.

[Jackie Bird]
I hope that answers your question, Michael and Christine. Thank you for it. This is from Angus Sproat, a Life member since the late 90s and the London Members' Centre committee. The first part of this is quite detailed -- you have to have your wits about you. I might need some help from Lesley-Ann here.
The NT offers a double membership for £1,895 for the over-60s, while the NTS has no comparable offer, only the standard Double Life membership of £2,150. I think we're missing a trick at the margin here, says Angus, and hereby promises to buy a Double 60s+ Life membership for my sister, if you offer one. I note that the discount between NT rates for over-60s Joint vs standard Joint is some 25% -- I hope you're following this -- which would suggest an appropriate NTS equivalent of £1,615.
Ok, while you're mulling over that, the second point of the question, which I think is particularly interesting: our objective is to raise money for the Trust. It would be really helpful if there was a project that we could cite as a cause if we are to persuade people to leave money to the Members' Centre, or buy our daughter an over-60s Life membership. It would be helpful if there was a glamorous, romantic legacy to be gifted to.
Wouldn't we all! I suggested the President's jewellery funds, but Phil wasn't up for that.
I'm not saying that soil sterilisation or guard rails are not highly important, but they hardly capture the imagination. On the other hand, a beautiful artefact,purchasing a small but significant building, or restoration might do the trick. Would it be possible for property managers to come up with some ideas? It may be that there is something ear-marked in 5 years' time that we could accumulate towards.
Lots to think about there, Phil.

[Phil Long]
Thank you very much from Angus Sproat. I'm not going to hog all the questions! I have some of my Senior Team here with me, who share the responsibility for the Trust, and so in this instance I'm going to ask my colleague Jane Ferguson, who leads our Audiences & Support work. Jane, would you mind taking those questions? You might want to come up to the lectern.

[Jane Ferguson]
Hi everyone, and thank you Angus for all those points and the support that is in that message as well. I'm going to just go through the four things.
First of all, the Life membership. I actually spoke to someone today who was gifted a Life membership 35 years ago, who's in the room. It was really interesting to get his feedback on that. The question Angus asked is coming up from others, and it's very timely because we're actually going to do a review in the year ahead. I joined in June of this year and we want to look at all of those categories. I very much recognise that the categories we offer have been quite static for quite some time, and people are looking for different things, so I think this is an opportunity. Angus, I will take you up on your pledge of buying that membership if we can get that all lined up in the coming months and the year ahead.
The second thing is big romantic projects, and I must say I love that phrase 'a romantic project'! We are indeed in a planning phase right now, as Lesley-Ann has mentioned and as Phil has mentioned in his piece. We're working on the strategy and there's a period of consolidation. So, what we would call the big transformative, transformational projects are in development and we're very soon going to be announcing some of these in the coming year. We have this year though done quite a few major things. We've had some lovely, lovely projects opening up the gardens at Pitmedden, at Crathes, and the restoration of the House of the Binns and the Treshnish Isles acquisition, as you saw in the film. But what we want to do is have really bigger-picture, planned, long-term projects -- those five-year projects that Angus has mentioned -- and we're very excited about the potential scale and the support and momentum we can build on those types of projects.
The other point was about the members' centres and friends' groups, and the contribution they can make. Each year, we do give a list of smaller items that our member centres can support but one of the things that works really well is if we are talking to you, and we can understand things you're interested in, then we can match projects in a better way. So, I think we'd like to have a chat with Angus about the London Centre, possibly what we can do there and just really explore what would work nicely for that group.
Finally, on legacies, we've just launched our Legacy Campaign, which is running from this month through to November. We're asking supporters and members and others to support us through a gift in their Will. Large and small, these donations make such a difference. They account for 10p of every pound we spend on our charitable purpose and the work to conserve our places. Last year we received over £7 million through gifts in Wills, so tremendous support. We're humbled and so grateful for all that people do in that way to support the Trust. I'm here today; Head of Fundraising Ali MacLeod is over on the other side of the room; and one of our colleagues in the team who's called Hannah Ennis is always available to talk to any of you if you'd wish to explore what that might mean. So, thank you again and hopefully that's covered all of Angus's very thorough points.

[Jackie Bird]
Thank you very much, thank you. I get the chance to crack the whip here; I have some real power. If I can ask Phil and anyone else answering a question to be brief, simply because I want to get through as many of your questions as I possibly can. The next one comes from Jonathan Rose.
How will the Trust effectively manage the increasing threat from onshore wind farms to the strategy of Nature, Beauty and Heritage for Everyone?

[Phil Long]
Well, that's a big question to answer concisely. We have a Renewable Energy Developments policy that's mainly directed at helping the Trust respond to development proposals by others. We stress the importance of energy efficiency measures and the reduction of energy demand as an important first step. That policy goes on to state that while renewables are preferable to fossil fuel technologies, their installation shouldn't damage areas designated for their landscape quality, their historic environment, biodiversity or the importance of the protection of peatlands. The developers and developing plans should engage fully with local communities.- Our own research into care of landscapes identified electricity transmission and wind turbines as two leading pressures on Scotland's landscapes currently, and we will raise our voice about this, as we are able, about windfarm locations. I know there are some concerns here in Aberdeenshire, particularly about the Hill of Fare proposal that we have made an objection to in the pre-planning consultation.

[Jackie Bird]
Thank you very much. We have some questions now from Jane Beatrice Skinner. There's a group of questions but they all relate to brand and marketing, so I'll fire them off one by one.
How does the NTS reach its look, that is the persona or identity which is apparent through its publications? Who would like to take that?

[Phil Long]
I'd like Jane, if you wouldn't mind once again please, who's standing by!

[Jane Ferguson}
Me again! I joined the Trust in June and I lead the Audiences & Support directorate. We look after the brand and all the marketing and communications that the Trust does. Our look, our identity is made up with lots of things: our logo, the thistle mark, the pictures, the images we use, the design, the graphics, the colours. A lot of thinking goes into that. And actually, coming in new, in our archive we've got a wonderful collection of all past documents, brochures, magazines ... and you can see the lovely journey that the logo itself has been on. Quite enduring but tweaked and refined over time. Many, many people work on managing that look and feel -- my own team and agencies, and creative agencies and designers that we use for the magazine, the Annual Review, our website and lots of other channels.

[Jackie Bird]
Jane also wants to know about marketing and selling the NTS. Who within the NTS management decides how the NTS is to be presented?

[Jane Ferguson]
That is myself as well. We carefully look at that. We try and make our resources work very hard and we think about all of our audiences, the members in the much wider public that we talk to and understand their needs, and take response and feedback from them in developing that.

[Jackie Bird]
Ok. And finally, are there any plans for changing the look of the NTS?

[Jane Ferguson]
All-powerful Jane!- Well, actually it's got very strong equity. Our name and all the elements of the brand has stood the test of time and they're well-known. I think we recently did a little bit of refinement of the brand, and you can see that in the documents that we've shared with you today. These have been revisions to make it cleaner and a bit more accessible, but it's very much evolution rather than throwing it out and radical change. It's evolution through time, to adapt to different channels in communication.

[Jackie Bird]
Alright, Jane, thank you for that, and thank you to Jane for the questions.
If you have any feedback, if indeed anyone has any feedback on that, don't forget we have the open question session coming a bit later on. Now, we have a clutch of questions here from Keith Griffiths who is a Life member. I'll paraphrase and I'll group some together and ask various people for their input.
First question regards timings and date of the AGM and on the substance of the minutes, whether they should or should not be more detailed. Stephen, I think this is one for you.

[Stephen Small]
Sure. I'll be brief. I'll offer the correspondent a fuller response and we may also just publish that response online with other questions. On the substance of the minutes, I am quite content to incorporate more of the Q&A into minutes going forward. The recording of the meeting is actually available online after the meeting and it's kept up there for a good number of months, so it is there and it's publicly available. But we're happy to look at the minutes again. I think Keith was also concerned that we didn't note the numbers of people in attendance within the minutes, and again we can note the number in the room. The number online fluctuates as the meeting progresses; it grows as the meeting progresses. But we can certainly note the maximum number in attendance within the minute.
The other question related to holding the meeting on a Friday. We've done a lot of market research with our membership during the course of this year on the AGM. This is something we're trying out. The hybrid meeting option appears to be popular; we're trying out the Friday just now to see if that also proves to be popular. We're happy to take any feedback from members about how we approach this in the future, whether Friday or Saturday makes a difference.

[Jackie Bird]
Keith's also got some questions on the Annual Report. The first sustainability objective in the Annual Report was the KPI of carbon equivalent emissions per visitor. Keith wonders if that is relevant. Phil, something for you?

[Phil Long]
I'd like to ask Diarmid Hearns, who leads our policy work if he could take that question please. Thank you, Diarmid.

[Diarmid Hearns]
Hi. It's a good question. At the moment we've got quite a simple measure, which is known emissions divided by visitors to give a per capita estimate. But we've got some things in the pipeline that will give us a much better picture. The first of those is ESOS (Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme), which is looking at heating, electricity, transport -- what in the jargon is called Scope 1 and Scope 2. We're about to look at Scope 3, which is emissions we don't directly control but can influence. That's investments or supply chain goods and services, and the big one: visitor travel to properties. When we've got all of that baseline, we'll have a lot more data. As part of this we're also looking at a climate change action plan, which will take us to Net Zero by 2031. I think we'll be looking at a lot more monitoring, performance reporting, probably different KPIs but we're about to get all that data together and start to understand how we can bring down each of those different components.

[Jackie Bird]
Thank you for that. Another question now from the Annual Report, and still from Keith.
The second sustainability objective is financial performance against budget. Keith asks how did we perform against budget in 22/23 and what is the budget for 23/24?

[Lesley-Ann Logan]
Yes, thank you. Responding to Keith's question, the presentation covered the 22/23 but the budgeted deficit for that year was 11.1 million and we actually achieved a deficit of 7.8 million. For 23/24 the budgeted deficit is 14.6 million.

[Jackie Bird]
Final question now from Keith, which is on the treatment of endowments and asks why c.£500,000 of publicity and fundraising expenditure was allocated against endowment funds?

[Lesley-Ann Logan]
Yes, I'll take that one again, Jackie. That £492,000 was allocated against the category of publicity and fundraising in the accounts because it relates to funding. It's an endowment funding and it represents the investment management costs.

[Jackie Bird]
A linked question here regarding endowment fund. This is from Alistair Learmonth, Life member.
Will the NTS disclose the current value of the Malleny endowment fund -- we talked about Malleny earlier -- and provide specification of the use of income from the fund since 2009?

[Phil Long]
I'm happy to take that one. The endowment fund for Malleny is currently valued at around about £900,000. Income from the fund is restricted to Malleny, and the endowment cannot be used for any other purpose. The retrospective question about how it's used goes back 14 years, so I think what we'd like to do, Alistair, is to give you a more detailed answer about that, which we'll discuss with you and we'll publish that as part of our fuller responses to the questions that we received today after the meeting.

[Jackie Bird]
Let's get out into the great outdoors. A question from Theresa Lindsay.
She wants to know are there any plans to extend the availability of biochar to more properties for the public to purchase. Where can we buy it now, apart from Inverewe, which is a wee bit of a hike?

[Phil Long]
Well, at Inverewe, the team have been working very hard to make it as sustainable property as possible, and recycle absolutely everything, and that has included their innovation in developing this biochar product. We're producing it only in small quantities. We'd like to consider how we might sell excess production, but it's also extremely useful in enabling Inverewe, which has a very shallow soil base, to flourish. We'd like to upscale this further across our properties. We'd need more investment to enable us to provide the equipment to do that,and so if there's anybody that would like to help us do that, provide those facilities at our properties, we'd love to hear from you about it.

[Jackie Bird]
Ok, I think we've got time for a couple? Yes, says my timekeeper here. We have got a question, well two questions actually, both are on dogs and they come from Theresa Lindsay and James Lindsay -- I don't know if there's any relation here. Dogs, you're all sitting up now, aren't you? Right, here we are. First question from Theresa.
I noticed the policy towards entry of dogs to your gardens varies. Some allow in walled gardens; others don't. One property has a dog-free day. Why is there not a blanket policy? Why do we allow dogs into the walled gardens at all when there are other parts of the properties where dogs can be walked?
The other question relates to dog owners and dog-minding services using the NTS grounds only for dog exercising. This comes from James, who says he notices a significant increase in dogs being exercised in properties and people parking their cars and vans, and they don't have any noticeable NTS parking stickers. What is the policy and are there any plans for changes or adaption?

[Phil Long]
Well, I'll take that. What I see across the Trust is that dogs can be very important companions to people, and that has been especially the case during the pandemic. And so, I think it's right that we are very sympathetic to that.
We have a policy which covers all properties. It's detailed on our website by property. There needs to be discretion on the part of property managers. For example with walled gardens where, as the question asks, damage might occur, we may not allow dogs or we may require dogs to be kept on short leads. Where we are involved in food production, which often goes into our cafes to be used as part of our offer, then we will largely not allow dogs there.
On the further part of this, on the increased use of our places for dog walking, particularly what we're seeing by commercial dog walkers, our places -- outside the gated part of our properties -- are free for all to use if they are used responsibly under the rights that people enjoy in Scotland. We are very happy about that. It would not be right, and in fact we could not, to impose restrictions.
But as regards that use and parking charges, we are aware that people will avoid paying parking charges at some of our properties. We think that's a great shame. The contribution that people make through paying for a ticket goes towards looking after those places that people are then using, and we do work hard to encourage people through our messaging, through the work that our team on sites do, to ask people to make sure that they're paying for their parking if they're not enjoying the benefits of being a member. The signage that we do all helps us do that, but we'll continue with our efforts because it is vital that we continue to raise money in that way, as well as with all the other ways that we do, to enable us to be able to look after the places that we have.

[Jackie Bird]
Thank you Phil. Thank you for your questions, and thank you for the questions that have come from those of you at home.
Let's move on now -- we'll come back to questions later -- to the formal adoption of the Annual Review and Accounts for 22/23. This is your next opportunity to raise your hands or vote online. When I put forward the resolution, can you either raise your hand to signal your approval or vote via UK Engage when prompted.
The resolution is to formally adopt the Annual Review and Accounts for 22/23. Can I have a proposer, please?
Can you raise your hands or, as prompted by UK Engage online, and vote on the resolution now?

[Stephen Small]
So, those in favour in the room, please raise your hands. Thank you very much.
And anyone against? Thank you.
The resolution is carried in the room, and I will just wait a moment for the online results.

[Jackie Bird]
People at home are still typing furiously about dogs.

[Stephen Small]
They are. We may get more questions on that subject. It's a popular subject.

[Jackie Bird]
As the owner of four cats, I'm not sure where I stand on this!

[Stephen Small]
Ok, let's see if we can bring that to a close. That was the prompt!

[Jackie Bird]
Remember, don't be using that chat box ... no, you do use the chat; no -- use the Q&A ... What did I tell you about technology?! I've forgotten it already! I'm not sitting at home; that's why they have me here!

[Stephen Small]
There's a gentleman called Adam who's going to send me the results, so Adam -- feel free. We can lose this in the edit [!], so when you're watching this at home there will not be a gap.
Adam has confirmed that the resolution has passed and carried. Thank you.

[Jackie Bird]
Now time to consider the re-election of the external Auditors.
The Board of Trustees unanimously recommended re-election of AAB Audit Limited of George Street in Edinburgh as the Trust's external Auditors.
Do we have a proposer? Thank you. Time to vote again.

[Stephen Small]
Those in the room in favour, please raise your hands. Thank you.
And any votes against? No votes against. Thank you.
It's carried in the room.
And we're going to encourage those at home to press the buttons as quickly as they can to vote.

[Jackie Bird]
You can understand mulling over the dogs' question but mulling over the auditors ...

[Stephen Small]
Ok, if we can hopefully bring that to a close online. I say that in a hopeful way.

[Jackie Bird]
What happens if someone sends you a message while you're doing that? Does it come on and interrupt?

[Stephen Small]
It truly confuses me! I can only do one thing at a time.
Thank you very much and again, the election of the auditor resolution has passed.

[Jackie Bird]
Thank you. Now to the election of the Trust's Vice-Presidents. Like me in my role as President, Vice-Presidents have no direct responsibility for the governance of the Trust, but they still fulfil vital ambassadorial duties that generate goodwill and help pave the way for the Trust's fundraising. The existing Vice-Presidents have served the Trust very well indeed in this capacity over a number of years.
The Board of Trustees is therefore pleased to recommend that the Duchess of Fife, Professor Hugh Cheape, Caroline Borwick and Professor Michael Scott Morton be reappointed as Vice-Presidents of the Trust with effect from today.
Do we have a proposer for this resolution? Thank you.
Can I ask you to vote in the appropriate way please?

[Stephen Small]
Indeed. In the room, if you'd like to vote in favour, please raise your hands. Thank you.
If you'd like to vote against? Thank you.
The resolution is carried in the room.
And we now wait -- and our Vice-Presidents wait -- with some bated breath. If we can bring that to a reasonably swift close online, that would be good. If you have Vice-Presidents again.

[Jackie Bird]
If I don't, does that mean I have to do it all?

[Stephen Small]
You've got to do everything yourself.

[Jackie Bird]
I sincerely hope we have Vice-Presidents again ... all those scones to be eaten; all those lovely visits ...

[Stephen Small]
The resolution is carried, with three abstentions, but carried. Thank you.

[Jackie Bird]
So, the Duchess of Fife, Professor Hugh Cheape, Caroline Borwick and Professor Michael Scott Morton are now duly elected as Vice-Presidents of the National Trust for Scotland and will continue to do their sterling roles.
Now we have the next item, and Jane -- who as we heard, was this summer appointed as the Trust's Director of Audiences & Support -- is going to come and tell us all about a proposed increase in the Ordinary membership subscription, the baseline annual amount paid to be a member of the Trust. Jane.

[Jane Ferguson]
Thank you. Our Ordinary member subscription is the basic rate at which a single adult can become a member of the Trust, and we use that rate to then calculate all the other rates off it. We always strive to ensure that the Ordinary member rate -- and all our rates -- are priced at a fair level, reflecting the pressures on household budgets but also our own need to generate income to fulfil our charitable purpose. Our approach is to make modest increments at a fair rate, and we enacted a 5% increase in the rate last year.
This year we would like to take the same approach. We're very aware, as I said in the Q&A, that lifestyles, society, the way people visit is changing, so we do want to take forward a review of those pricing categories and look at what else we can offer in the year ahead. It will be a staged review, looking at the categories, but as a first step we want to set our future membership rates to take effect annually from 1 January. Historically, the rates have changed in March, which has been tied to our financial year. That doesn't actually make much sense to people. It's an odd deadline, and it's much simpler if we keep it closer to this meeting, which decides the rate. So, we'd like to do that today; take that decision and make that simpler for members.
This means that in the coming year, from 1 January 2024, we're proposing to raise the Ordinary membership subscription from £66 to £69.30. This represents an increase of 5%. We will look at the other rates and the differentials in line with that.
I've been a member for a long, long time before I started working here. I really believe that we offer fantastic, remarkable value for money,and that cost -- when you break it down on a monthly level -- is £5.78. When you think about the access we provide to over 100 places, important historic and natural places across Scotland, it compares so well to other everyday experiences.
I therefore respectfully ask for you to approve the proposed rate for the Ordinary membership for 2024. Thank you.

[Jackie Bird]
Thank you, Jane. Just to restate that, for the reasons that Jane's outlined, with effect from 1 January 2024, the Ordinary member annual subscription shall be raised from the sum of £66 to £69.30.
This is the penultimate resolution prior to the election of Trustees and I ask you to vote in the appropriate way.

[Stephen Small]
So please, those in the room who wish to vote in favour, please raise your hands. Thank you.
And any votes against in the room? One vote against. Thank you.
One vote against, and we'll wait for the result from home.
Ok, we can just close off the voting at home and look for the results.
Keeping Adam busy! Adam has confirmed that the resolution is carried from home, with two votes against and two abstentions, but carried. Thank you.

[Jackie Bird]
It is now confirmed, ladies and gentlemen, that on 1 January 2024, the Ordinary member annual subscription shall be £69.30.

[Stephen Small]
Sorry, I'm happy to note there was an abstention. That's fine.

[Jackie Bird]
So, we have now completed the procedural business required of the AGM and have the final presentation of the meeting, and it's one that I've been particularly looking forward to.
As I mentioned earlier, I had great fun going to Crathes to see the new rose garden. I'm not much of a gardener myself but I do know a great garden when I see one, and in Aberdeenshire, as you all well know, you are spoiled for choice.
We're going to hear now from someone who's on his doorstep really: the Gardens and Designed Landscapes Manager -- very grand! -- whose team has made these places so very special. He is Chris Wardle; he's going to deliver a presentation on the North East's gardens, and I hope it will inspire you to rush out and visit a few -- or revisit a few.
Before you do that, just one last reminder that, while you are listening to Chris, we're having our second question & answer session, which is an open one. So, please think up or type up your questions at home, and we'll do our very best to respond. Don't forget to include your name at home or if you're asking a question in person to let us know who you are.
But first, let's hear from Chris Wardle. Let's give him a round of applause.

[Chris Wardle]
Well, it's a pleasure and an honour to come and speak to the AGM, so thank you for inviting me to come and talk to you today. The irony of this situation is not lost on myself because, a few years ago, when I was at school, I was the shy kid who would never stand up in front of people, and I also detested history ... go figure! Here we are today, so you must humour me slightly.
Jackie has done a fantastic job of saying that I'm going to present about North East gardens, and I am going to present about North East gardens, but you must humour me a little bit as my subtitle is really about gardening heroines. I actually want to humanise what we do in gardens a little bit and actually talk more about people, because people are so important. Just a fraction under 25 years ago, I came to work for the Trust, and myself and my family moved up from basically Brighton. I thought we would be up here for just 2 or 3 years, and then a couple of weeks ago I was called a lifer, so I don't think there's any chance of me leaving any time soon ... unfortunately for my colleagues around me! But it's been fantastic that I've spent this amount of time in the North East. My heart is basically based at Crathes; I spent 18 years at Crathes, and it still continues to be my office today.
Now, back in the summer of this year, myself and my wife went on a little bit of a pilgrimage for us. We went down to a place called Hill Top in Cumbria -- some of you may have heard of Hill Top; some of you may not -- but you will definitely know its famous resident, and that is Beatrix Potter. You're probably thinking what has this got to do with gardens and landscapes?The thing about Hill Top and Beatrix Potter is she's known as an author, but she was this great advocate for landscape improvements, heritage, conservation and all sorts of activity around that landscape where she grew up and spent her life. She was great friends with Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley; he was the first Secretary of the National Trust. Her ideas and conservation ethos were passed down through and then ended up being adopted as one of the very first concepts of the National Trust, which is very similar and our sister organisation. When she died, her land was gifted over to the National Trust in the South, hence the National Park down there of the Lake District basically is based on her ideas and concepts. That's where that was birthed, but we have that, and our own people, here in the North East as well. We have to look to Castle Fraser.
Miss Bristow and Lady Elyza Fraser, who in the late 1700s/early 1800s were great friends, companions, travelling partners and so on, but they were landscape improvers -- a very rare commodity of their time. Two strong, individual women running a landscape and developing what we see today at that particular property. And you can see the landscape as it stands today in all its format because they engaged Thomas White, who was at the time a landscape designer. He created it as we see it today. Thomas White himself was in fact a disciple of Capability Brown, so you can see the influences that stretch across the borders and across generations in our great properties here in the North East. Strong women.
Now, I can't obviously not talk about Crathes Castle, where I spend so much time. The gardens there are really the products that we see of many, many generations but most recently of Lady Sybil Burnett and her husband Sir James. But it's really Lady Sybil who I wanted to just mention at this point. She was the soft part of the partnership. Sir James did all the hard landscaping, trees and shrubs, and was very much on the large scale, but the softness that was brought into the gardens was created by the planting -- the great floriferous borders that were created and developed because Lady Sybil Burnett herself was a disciple of Gertrude Jekyll, who is there on the bottom right-hand corner of that picture. Gertrude Jekyll is one of the great proponents of what we would know as the English landscape, or English garden style.
But that's a little bit of the past. We should really bring it up into modern days here. And so who are my gardening heroines? It's really the people I work with.
Here on the left, we have Ann Steele. Ann is our current Head of Gardens and Designed Landscapes and she has been with the Trust for 30 years. She somehow manages to keep us, the garden managers, in check. We come to her for advice and counsel, and she's a great advocate for all of the work that we do. She has taken us in the direction where we now have a new garden strategy, which will take us for the next 10 years. It's set our direction and will show us the movement that we have to go into to care for and maintain our gardens and designed landscapes for the future.
And on the right-hand side of this picture, we have Sarah Ramsay. She is the Head Gardener at Leith Hall, a fantastic individual -- well-read, two degrees, widely travelled in places like China and Mongolia -- a fantastic individual, and the person who I jokingly call my work wife, because everybody needs a confidant. Not my actual wife but she is a great person that I can actually talk to and sometimes bounce ideas off around as well.
We have people like Alison here, Alison Farrell on the left-hand side. She works at Geilston; 30 years with the Trust. Forthright, direct, hardworking individual, well-liked by her team and she has the fantastic team of volunteers, who work in and around the gardens there between Geilston and also Hill House. A marvellous person to be part of the wider gardening community.
We have to look to the future and the next generation of strong females who are going to work with us. In the middle there, we have Anna Christie who works at Fyvie. She's only been with us for just under 2 years. An amazing person whose hair changes colour like the days and like the seasons. She's like a ray of sunshine and she will be one to watch; she will be a Head Gardener of the future.- She's a fantastic individual, very talented.
Now, of course I have to mention this, otherwise I would be in huge trouble, is actually my wife, the person on the right. A Head Gardener in her own right and, as I always say, nothing would pass the audit before it goes out into public. She's been my support throughout my career, to take me to this point, so I could not not mention my wife.
And on the right of this particular picture, we have Laurie Daguin, who works at Drum. A great individual, comes from France, very well-read and versed in European gardening as well. She works with a strong team of volunteers and, like every property that we have in our care in gardens, we can't do what we do without the volunteers. We're very, very lucky here in the North East. On average, I would say that we have somewhere around about 12-18 volunteers per garden. By far some of the highest numbers of volunteer involvement is in this region within the gardens, and we're very lucky for that.
Before I move on from this particular slide, I should just mention that it makes me immensely proud that when we look at the female to male split of head gardeners in this region, it's 50:50 split. And in fact, we have a higher proportion now of female gardeners in what was always traditionally a male-dominated industry. We have a higher proportion of female gardeners in this region and that makes me very, very proud.
I couldn't really move on from this particular section about people without actually just showing you these individuals. I had to ask permission to show these pictures and talk about their stories, and this is really to just touch away from the key core of what we do in gardening but to talk about the societal need for our gardens and what we fulfil for so many people.
On the left of this slide we have Lucy. Lucy's son James is very severely autistically disabled. He's non-verbal autistic and it's very hard work looking after James. They come into one of our properties every week on a Friday and James works with his dad, and Lucy then spends time picking flowers, vegetables and weeding. That is her respite care from the trauma -- not the trauma, that's the wrong word -- the consistent work that it takes looking after James. So, in that instance we provide a facility and a function for other people.
In the middle, we have Ludmila, or shortly known as Mila -- that's a short name of her name --and Ludmila is a Siberian Russian. She is a refugee in exile from her home country. Due to the political pressures that are going on around the world, she doesn't talk to her family anymore. She comes into one of our properties and spends time within the gardens working each week, and she finds that a particular solace to her and her situation.
And on the right, we have Kerry. Kerry has mental health issues, suffers from anxiety and found it hard to get back into the workplace after raising children. She now works as a seasonal gardener at one of our properties and she always says that she takes the care and the support of her colleagues around her that support her in her home life, but she gets that from the gardens.
And what we are trying to say here is that people make what we do. Without people, we cannot continue to do what we do, whether that's volunteers, our staff, our supporters, our stakeholders, our member centres and everybody around us -- because it takes hard work to continue to create these amazing environments for you, our supporters and our tourists, our travel trade visitors to come and enjoy what we do. It's all of these things that come together that make our jobs so interesting.
But we are in a period of change -- and we're out with the old and in with the new. We are doing new methods and, to prove that a leopard can change its spots, there's 2 lovely pictures here of me a few years ago, happily spraying chemicals around with no abandon. But, like I say, to prove that we can change and we are moving in a different direction, we have a place to play in educating how we look after our gardens, the activity that we do and the direction we should be going in. The days when we would be spraying lots and lots of chemicals and all of that sort of activity -- they are gone. Recently, we had a report done, which was the State of Nature, that said how important our green spaces were for providing this facility to educate other people about what is possible ... and everything is about what is possible.
So, we are changing but it's a journey, and I likened this recently with a colleague. I said we're on a bus and we don't know where the final destination is, in this particular instance. We have to think about what we're doing because it's undeniable: climate change, the way that the climate affects our gardens, how we look after them and what happens within them is moving so, so quickly. I remember coming here just under 25 years ago, what it was like then and the goalposts have moved and continue to move away from us. So, we're having to think about what's going on, the infrastructure that we put in place and how we manage the infrastructure of our gardens is vital because the rain comes, the sun comes out. Things go into drought and then the rains turn up, and everything is damaged. And we're trying to adapt constantly to what is happening around us.
But also part of that journey is, and it's been mentioned by Phil and many other people in the talks that they've given as well, that it's sustainability. In fact, gardens, green spaces and landscapes are seen as being very, very green and very sustainable, but in fact there are many things that we do that are in fact not that green. So, we have to change, amend, learn and then educate as well, and we are in a very strong position to do that because people are so engaged with our landscapes and environments. We will engage with those opportunities and then push that out as much as we can to the people that we engage with. Sometimes the first people that our visitors will see, in all shapes and forms, is when they come in. They will park their car in a car park, and the first person they will see will be a groundsman or a gardener. We have our part to play, which is vital in the initial messaging and talking to our visitors.
The one key topic that is going to be coming over the horizon, hopefully, is how we manage our grassland, how we manage grass. We cut lots and lots of grass, and we're starting to ask the question: Do we need to do that? It's very damaging, spending lots of money on fossil fuels; it comes down to financial sustainability. Again, we have an opportunity where we can engage with visitors, show something different and potentially still create something beautiful but environmentally more sustainable for plants and insects, and for our properties as well.
But all the time, while we're doing that, we have to somehow find the right and strike the right balance between the spirit of place. Our properties and our visitors have an expectation: you come, you visit and you expect things to stay the same. And they have been the same for a long time, but the world is changing. Our methods are changing; people's perceptions are changing as well; and maybe again we have to teach ourselves inwardly about how we look and accept the way things are. The job of a good manager is, and should be, to actually ask questions. Why is it like that? Do we need to do that? Can we change? But all the time having good reasoning for why we would actually make those changes as well. And then, push that across to the people around us as well, so that we have a well-thought-out direction but we have our strong ground to then push that messaging across. All the time, it's a learning organisation, whether it's our students, our staff, our visitors; whether it's internal or external, especially within the gardens, it's always about learning.
I love my job. I am so passionate about it because I realised the more I know, the least I know. I realised that there is a world out there of things that I should go out and discover. And that is why the National Trust for Scotland, for myself, facilitates my own development to constantly grow and be part of this learning organisation. It's all about heritage gardening and tradition, but forward-thinking at the same time. And that is a tricky balance. It's a constant discussion but it's a discussion we have regularly, and we enjoy that discussion.
Above all, we love plants. We wouldn't be gardeners if we didn't love plants. It's the thing that gives us joy, but growing plants is really that metaphor, and I'm completely going to rob a phrase from somebody who's sat just over here, we grow plants like we grow people. We grow people to grow the organisation for the future. It's all about learning, developing and moving forward, so we have to grow plants because that gives us the conversation starter at all sorts of levels, at all sorts of times. I'm trying to prove with a couple of pictures here that there are some plants within the gardens and we do take photographs of them occasionally!
But at the end of the day, the job is fantastic. We love what we do and we enjoy the people we work with and, above all, we're passionate about what we do. We love our places and I know that, myself and my colleagues, we just engage and we feel the organisation. We feel that passion. To steal a phrase from a poster just behind us, it is for the love of Scotland. We understand our place in the care and the conservation of the items and the places around us. So, I'd like to just leave you with this particular phrase here. Minnie Aumonier, she was actually a costume designer, poet and watercolourist in the late 1800s. She published books, and this was actually something that she wrote down on a bookmark that was found in her copy of a book she wrote called The Garden of the Nightingale.
'When the world wearies and society fails, there's always the garden.' Thank you.

[Jackie Bird]
This is the man who didn't like public speaking! Absolutely brilliant.
Can I just say something? I'm probably making a fuss now, but when I went to Crathes for the day at the opening of the rose garden, I have met new fathers who were not as proud of their offspring as Chris was of that garden, and his team and James and everyone up there, so thank you for that.
It's now time for our second Q&A. Those of you who are in this room, please raise your hand and wait until the microphone finds you. Give us your name and then make your point, ask your question.
We'll be interspersing questions with those we have received from those of you participating online. I will pass on to Phil, and Phil can choose to answer or subcontract the difficult ones!
Ok, so where shall we begin? Shall we begin in the room, to see if anyone's brave enough to kick us off? We have a man at the back. A microphone is coming to you. Tell us who you are sir, and then make your point.

[Andy McKenzie]
My name's Andy McKenzie. I'm a fairly recent member of the National Trust. One thing that's slightly confused me with the National Trust in Scotland, there's another organisation -- Historic Scotland -- and I've recently had some visitors from abroad come here and indeed for myself found it confusing of this situation, both in Scotland and down in England. And I'm wondering if there has ever been any consideration or opportunity for National Trust to create some sort of merger or partnership? That picks up on what Jane was talking earlier about reviewing the membership categories, whether it could consider a joint membership to improve visitor numbers, visitor satisfaction and visitors' experience for those coming from abroad. Thank you.

[Phil Long]
Andy, thank you very much for that question. It's a big subject and we might want to continue discussing it after lunch. I'll try and give you a short answer.
NTS was established in 1931 as an independent charity,and it still amazes me to this day that an independent charity has this wonderful responsibility to care for so much of Scotland's wonderful heritage.
HES (formerly Historic Scotland) and the Royal Commission for the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland was combined a few years ago and is effectively a government agency that has a statutory responsibility to care for historic monuments and for archive collections in respect of heritage.
We undertake different duties in the main. When we're asked about this, we often say the NTS has got the responsibility for buildings with roofs; HES has a responsibility for the other sort. And that gives them particular challenges. We do work with HES. We collaborated closely with HES recently, and with other heritage organisations, to develop the successor plan to the Our Place In Time national strategy to care for Scotland's heritage. We also work collaboratively over some properties. Some of our properties are in the guardianship care of HES, such as for example Threave Castle in the South West. We own it and HES have the responsibility to care for it. In instances like that, NTS members are able to visit HES-cared-for properties without charge.
On reciprocal arrangements, that has been looked at in the past. I'll try and answer that one quite simply. HES is a government-funded agency and I think that enables it to offer membership rates which are in fact at a lesser cost than the Trust's and so it is not in our interests to ... We want to encourage people to be members of the National Trust for Scotland because, as an independent charity, we need to continue to ask for and win your support.
Now, there's another very particular important point to this. NTS is an independent charity. It's also independent of political influence. HES is a government agency, and so that will not work in the same way for them. I think it is very important that we maintain our independent status so we can speak up for things that concern us to do with the care of the landscape, the nature and the heritage of Scotland, and speak out in support of, but also against, policies that we might not support that might be politically led.

[Jackie Bird]
Andy, thanks again for your question. Let's go online now. This question is from Nancy Jenkins; thank you, Nancy. This is a query about the membership rate increase.
The AGM, she says, has just agreed to an increase for Ordinary members -- fine. The speaker said that other rates will be increased along similar lines, which is fine, but if so, why aren't the new rates shown on the agenda?

[Phil Long]
That's a good question, and I'll try and take this one quite quickly. Our governance requires us to ask for approval for the Ordinary membership rate and we undertake to do that at the members' AGM every year. And you have done that today, thank you. Once the members have agreed to that, then that helps us set a direction for the other rates accordingly. As we set out our budget for the future year, which we are doing now and over the coming months, we will decide what those other membership rates will be. We base that on the income that we require to operate the Trust and what we think will be acceptable to members for these other rates. And then these other rates, under our governance, are consequently approved as part of our overall budget approval process by our Board of Trustees.

[Jackie Bird]
Thank you, Phil. We have a question now from someone who's in the room. We'll come to the live question in just a moment. This was written just before we began.
It says: Some NTS members' centres are still active despite difficulties in recruiting volunteers for organising committees. It may no longer be feasible for the NTS to help publicise events via the magazine,however could perhaps some mechanism be found via NTS website to help promote members' centres and their activities in support of the Trust?

[Phil Long]
Well, it's a very good question. I'll just take this in the interest of time also.
We've worked with members' centres and Friends' groups for many years. They are enormously supportive of the work that we have undertaken over many years and contributed very significant amounts of money to enable that to happen. It is the case that, particularly through the pandemic, some of those groups have found it challenging to continue and in fact I think we might have lost around about 5 from around about 38. Is that right? I'm looking to Ali. Others are flourishing and we're seeing membership rates going up.
We want to work with the groups to help them to develop. There is a place for that in the quarterly magazine. I think in every third magazine we make sure that there is provision for that.The groups are also mentioned in the Guide. We also have a section on our website. They are established as independent charities, and so there are some rules around what we can do in terms of promotion, particularly of memberships.
But we always want to talk to the members' groups and the Friends' groups. We have an annual meeting with the leads of those groups to discuss what further we can do. I'm sure we recognise we can do more, and we really want to work with you to be able to do that. I think in fact today, on the information that we provided in the room, we've provided some leaflets for members' centres and groups, so the will is absolutely there. You do wonderful things for us and we want to see you continue to flourish.

[Jackie Bird]
Thank you, Nancy, for your interest. I think we're going back into the room now. The lady at the back?

[Elizabeth Watt]
My name is Elizabeth Watt and I've got a couple of thoughts. I wondered were there opportunities for members to provide their views on where the funds are invested, so in particular projects? Any way for members to put their vote in, as there has been on other restoration programmes that have run on TV?
And the second point is: I wondered with all the properties which are not yet open to the public, has the Trust ever considered having such a thing as an Open Doors Day? It's something they have in the city and the shire, where you can go into buildings which you would not normally have the opportunity to do so.

[Phil Long]
So, the first question is could members have a say in what the conservation works are that happen across the estate. The process that we have to decide what can be done for conservation investment is a complex one, that takes into account a great deal of consideration and research by the professional teams which then goes through a very thorough governance process, which is overseen and approved by the Trustees.
I think in reality, it would add considerable complexity to bring in a member's views about that overall, but I understand your question and I think I'd like to think about how around some particular areas of activity that we could look at that. What might, for example, be broad categories of prioritisation that you might want to do.
I should also add that we're very open to members and supporters coming to us with the financial means to enable projects to happen and to fund those. We've had that very recently, through a very generous supporter who approached us out of the blue to help support our work at Barry Mill. We are always very open to those sorts of discussions.
Doors Open Day. Well, it's a good point about the properties that are not open. Of course, one of the things about Doors Open Day is that those properties that do open through that across Scotland are normally not open at all. We take great pride in that all of our visited properties are substantially open, many of them now throughout the year. But it's a nice point about whether our wider, non-open properties might find their way into the Doors Open Day events, which I know are so popular across Scotland, so we will look at that. Thank you.

[Jackie Bird]
Another question from the floor. Yes, from the back.

[Stephen Ballard]
My name is Stephen Ballard. Across the Trust properties and gardens, you use tools, machinery and vehicles powered by petrol and diesel engines. Small petrol and diesel engines -- these small combustion engines -- are one of the most polluting forms of energy generation that you can get, both in terms of air pollution and noise pollution. When will you set an example to personal, private gardens and commercial gardeners and stop using combustion engines, and replace them with electric-powered sources?

[Phil Long]
It's a great question, and my colleague Chris will be far better at answering it than I am.
But before he answers, I'm going to say we are looking overall -- and I think Diarmid referred to this early on -- at a complete review of our fleet across the Trust and how we can move to EVs and more sustainable forms of energy to power all of the things that we do. Chris!

[Chris Wardle]
Sorry, where did the question come from? [That gentlemen there.] Can I just say we are electrifying -- it's a great phrase, isn't it?!
But it is true. We are really substantially moving, as you say, all of the small hedge trimmers, many of our mowers, many many of our machines now are actually ... we are going on that journey towards full electrification.
We are looking at the bigger machines. The technology doesn't quite exist yet for the really big machines -- we're talking tractors and so on. It is coming but it's a slow process. But all of the small machines, we are electrifying. That's all I can say. We are either there or very close to being there now.

[Jackie Bird]
Thank you. You thought you were coming for an easy ride, didn't you then Chris?
Do we have any more questions from the floor? Yes! No one in the main body of the kirk? [There's a chap down there.] We have another, right. Ok, ok.

[Charles Hope]
My name is Charles Hope. I've been a member of the Trust for somewhat over 40 years, not a Life member, just an annual paying member. Question about marketing really.
You used to be able to buy NTS ties, NTS products that weren't for a particular property; they were just for the Trust as a whole. These don't seem to feature on the online shop anymore. I know people don't wear ties anymore. I'm still wearing one -- exactly -- but no, they are going out of fashion, but something more than just a little mini button badge to promote the Trust would be useful to have on sale in the shops. And then, when we wander around, we promote the Trust. Thank you.

[Phil Long]
Thank you, Charles. Charles, thank you and thank you for your support over so long. I'm always very glad to meet Life members, but I'm always very glad to meet people that renew their subscription every year for 40 years.
It's always helpful to hear feedback on what we are providing through retail, whether it's at our places or online. We are constantly developing new lines and we will certainly feed back to our retail team that interest in that product, which, as I think you are saying,you would proudly wear to identify yourself with the Trust.

[Jackie Bird]
Good. Nothing smarter than a man in a tie.

[Phil Long]
Thank you, Jackie.

[Jackie Bird]
Question over here.

[Linda Slessor]
My name is Linda Slessor. I'm a Life member and I am blind and not very good with modern technology, so I didn't notice that I wasn't receiving the magazine. It was only when the AGM came here to Aberdeen that I realised that I wasn't getting any posting whatsoever. So, what my question is: are people who have been long-term Life members dropping off some list? And why are we not getting the appeals information? Because I would like to contribute to the appeals but if I don't get the information, I can't do it.

[Phil Long]
Thank you very much for your question and thank you for your long-term support.
On the question of whether ... I think you asked if Life members were dropping off? Our Life members, often their subscriptions go back a very long way and it is the case that we don't always have records of Life members dating back to the very early days. We're very keen to keep in contact with our Life members for the support that they've given.
On communications, we want to find as many ways as possible to be able to communicate with our members. We continue to do that by paper, with our appeals, and we have them online. We'll certainly feature them in our social media communications. But I think it would be very good to hear from people in the room, and perhaps from you directly. We could have a discussion about this afterwards, as to how you feel that we might develop our communications that they can reach as broad and diverse an audience as possible in ways that might be accessible to them.

[Jackie Bird]
Ok. Thank you for that. Well, I'm afraid time has beaten us so if you're in the room and you have some questions, you can buttonhole us physically.
Online, apologies. If we haven't managed to reach you, then we will answer them and we will publish them online. If you are unable to either submit one or, as I say, receive an answer to it, email us if you don't hear. Email us at
We'll try to come back to you with a written response over the next few days. We'll put that email address on the website as well.
So, we are now nearing the end of the meeting. The next item is the outcome of this year's membership ballot places on the Board of Trustees. The election process, which was open to all Trust members, began in June with a mailing in the summer edition of the Trust magazine.
Three separate candidates came forward, who each met the skills and experience criteria for election to the Board in the category of Formal Education, Learning and Research and were therefore subject to the ballot.
However, only one qualified candidate came forward for each of the other two categories -- namely Commercial and Entrepreneurial Activity in a Consumer Environment and Natural Heritage, Wildlife and Environment. Since it's not been possible to hold a ballot for these two categories, we will put the proposed appointment of the sole candidates forward as separate resolutions.
As was mentioned at the beginning of the meeting, electronic voting closed at 12.30 today. We now have the final tally of votes received today and in advance through our process, so I'm now going to pass over to Stephen to announce the results.

[Stephen Small]
Thank you, Jackie. I have the final results of the Trustee elections for 2023.
We have taken the votes cast in advance of the meeting and added those cast today, in person, online and also by proxy. I will announce the results in alphabetical order of the candidates' surnames.
Professor Murray Pittock: 1,441 votes; Dr Lynn Robertson: 925 votes; Joe Trainor: 621 votes
Professor Murray Pittock has received the most votes in this category and is duly elected to the Board of Trustees of the National Trust for Scotland. Congratulations to you, Murray.
As always, my thanks go to all the candidates who ran in the election, to all the members who cast their votes, thank you. I'll pass back to the President.

[Jackie Bird]
Just to reiterate, congratulations Murray. Commiserations to Lynn and Joe, and thanks to everyone who took the trouble to vote.
Now we come to those two categories of Trusteeship for which only one qualified candidate came forward.
I therefore propose that Lish Kennedy, the candidate in the category of Commercial and Entrepreneurial Activity in a Consumer Environment be appointed to the Board of Trustees.
Can I ask you to cast your vote for or against that Lish Kennedy be appointed to the Board of Trustees?

[Stephen Small]
Could I ask those in the room please to raise their hands in favour of the resolution? Thank you.
And do we have any votes against the resolution? Thank you.
And, for the penultimate time today, await the results from online, from at home.

[Jackie Bird]
Who is your helper?

[Stephen Small]

[Jackie Bird]
Where is Adam?

[Stephen Small]
Adam is actually in his office; he works for UK Engage, who provide this service for us. Thank you, Adam.
I think they just got some free advertising. So, on that basis, Adam, if you can let us have the numbers, that would be great!
There we go! Thank you very much. Got them in double quick time, and I can confirm, with two abstentions, that Lish Kennedy is duly elected.

[Jackie Bird]
Other voting companies are ...

[Stephen small]

[Jackie Bird]
So, Lish Kennedy is now duly appointed as a Trustee of the National Trust for Scotland.
Now, the very last resolution of the day. Only one qualified candidate came forward for the Trusteeship in the category of Natural Heritage, Wildlife and Environment.
I therefore propose that Dr Will Williams, the sole candidate in this category, be appointed to the Board of Trustees.

[Stephen Small]
Once again, can I ask those who wish to vote in favour of the resolution in the room to raise their hands. Thank you.
And do we have any votes against the resolution? Thank you very much.
And for the final time today, we will trouble Adam to pass us the votes from home, and then he can go and get his lunch.

[Jackie Bird]
As will we.

[Stephen Small]
As will we.

[Jackie Bird]
Good! Is he going to keep us on tenterhooks for this one because it's a final?

[Stephen Small]
I think he might. I think he has that power.
I can confirm that the resolution is indeed passed. Thank you.

[Jackie Bird]
Dr Will Williams is now duly appointed as a Trustee of the National Trust for Scotland.
Once again, congratulations to the new Trustees. Enjoy your time; it will be fascinating.
All that remains for me to do is to invite our Deputy Chairman David Mitchell back to the podium. He's going to say a few words of thanks to those who have served the Trust so well. I believe he also has a special presentation to make. David.

[David Mitchell]
Nice to be back again. Gosh. Heritage, beauty, nature -- there's a word missing. It's been here all morning; it's been with me my 50-year journey through the Trust.
It's people, and Jackie used it -- she'd been impressed by the people that she had met. Everywhere I go in the organisation, I meet the most amazing people. People are the glue that holds the Trust together, whether they're members, whether they're volunteers, whether they're our core staff, our seasonal staff or whether they're our Trustees.
But before I thank our Trustee who steps down today, I want to thank and mention an esteemed colleague who passed away in the last year, almost exactly a year ago. Wendy Corrigan was an amazing Trustee and a good friend to me. She joined the Board in September 2019 as a specialist buildings conservation architect, and from the very beginning it was very clear that Wendy was an extremely knowledgeable person. Despite her formidable level of expertise, she was friendly and approachable, and always supportive of her other Trustees as well as our staff and our volunteers. She was able to guide us through some very difficult decisions and she made a real material difference; a positive difference to many of the projects you've been hearing about earlier today. She gave us sage advice and insight into how to make the best decisions possible in the interests of the buildings that we were caring for.
Wendy was also a devoted wife to her husband Tony and to her son Euan. She was passionate about the Trust as a charitable cause. She was also proactive and passionate about other causes, particularly Cancer Research UK, and often ran marathons to raise money. Even in the midst of the 2020 pandemic, she ran the equivalent of the London Marathon by going round and round and round about in the middle of her street until she had completed the mileage. That gives you some indication of Wendy's dedication to the things that she committed to her.
I will miss her as a friend and on behalf of the Trustees of the National Trust, I just want to note how much we will all miss Wendy. On behalf of the staff, all of us who were privileged to have Wendy come into our life were very fortunate indeed.
Now, today marks the end of James Fenton's period of time as a Trustee. James has served two terms -- that's 8 years -- but before I explain about that, I feel I should just note that James and I first met when we both worked in different capacities at Inverewe Garden in 1979. James was a summer ranger and I was the garden's first ever propagator. Back then, I don't think either of us would ever have suspected or imagined that we would end up serving together on the Board of Trustees of the National Trust for Scotland for 6 years, side by side.
I would like to thank James today for his services to the Trust at the end of his term of office. James, what a career you've had, from the 1970s with the British Antarctic Survey and then on to slightly warmer climates in the National Trust for Scotland as our first ecologist between 1991 and 2005. And then there was a spell to the other side -- I won't say dark side, you never heard that -- Scottish Natural Heritage. He then came back into the light of the world, and he became the chief executive of the Falklands Conservation NGO between 2011 and 2013. James's first period of time as a Trustee for the National Trust for Scotland was between 2015-2019.
James is clearly someone who likes the extremes in an ecological sense, but thankfully he never had that tendency as a Trustee, as a colleague, as a friend. Despite having strong opinions formed through his unrivalled experience, James has always been collegiate, friendly and innovative whilst his time on the Board, contributing to many of our debates and decisions as we wrestled with the challenges of managing our landscapes in our care. James, I will miss you and your wise counsel on the Board as this chapter of our journey together with the Trust comes to an end. Please know that we're all sad to see you go but I'm sure we'll remain in touch. We have a small token of appreciation to offer.
If you would like to come up to the podium, James, that would be wonderful.

[James Fenton]
Thank you, it's been a great time.

[David Mitchell]
Lastly, we have a further celebration but this time not for a member of the Board but for a volunteer. As you know, volunteers are the lifeblood of the Trust and we are grateful to each and every one of you. But among the many, many people who give up so much of their time to help us, there is someone who, over decades, has made a remarkable and, I would say,possibly even unsurpassable contribution to the National Trust for Scotland.
Joyce Mackie is a passionate supporter of our charity and this year marks Joyce's 50-year milestone in volunteering and supporting us. Over the years, Joyce has undertaken many many many duties for our charity. She's been a critical part of the regional and national growth, serving in volunteer capacities including former Council, a period as Vice-President and even a period as a cruise leader,when I first met her welcoming everyone on board.
Today, Joyce is a Life member, a donor, a volunteer, an honorary president of the North East Members' Centre,an advocate for our charity, a friend and a guide to many. A weel-kent face. We are in awe, Joyce, of such steadfast and active fidelity, and we want to celebrate this quite staggering 50 years. It's very appropriate that we do that today here, as we host our AGM in the North East, an area home to Joyce and the region which has benefitted enormously from your unwavering support.
It's my pleasure to recognise the service that you've given with this commemorative book, which shares memories from friends across the decades. Joyce, would you like to come up, please? That would be lovely, thank you.
What a marvellous occasion indeed. Joyce has worked alongside us for five decades. She perhaps knows our staff better than anyone else in this region! She's seen us come and go; she's seen us smile; she's heard her tales of woe. She's seen us celebrate joy and success. I'm in awe of what you do, Joyce. It's a wonderful lifetime's achievement. Please accept the book and the flowers from us, which are at the bottom of the stairs. Thank you very much indeed. Do you want to say something?

[Joyce Mackie]
I'm not going to make a long speech because it's lunchtime but I would just like to say what a huge privilege it has been to be a member of the National Trust for Scotland. I can't think of any other organisation in the country, or probably even the world,that matches the National Trust for Scotland. Its friendship -- it's a family organisation -- that's the thing we've often spoken about: the family of the Trust. And I think that's amplified today and exemplified today by what we've heard from Jackie and from Philip, and the staff today. We're all Jock Tamson's bairns, and it's just the most fantastic organisation.
What I would like to do is to ask every National Trust for Scotland member to make another member, and next year's AGM we'll have 600,000 members in the Trust. So, will you all do that? Start with all the members in this room for a start and make a member, and then we'll spread it out, pass the word round in the next note to our members. And we'll continue to be the greatest organisation.
I would like also to thank my family and friends for their support because I couldn't have done what I've done without the family and my friends' support. Thank you very much indeed and thank you for this; I will treasure this very much.

[David Mitchell]
On that note, I will pass back to Jackie, who will wrap up and allow you all to go to lunch, I'm sure.

[Jackie Bird]
What a lovely, lovely note on which to end, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you to Joyce. Who needs an advertising budget when we have Joyce? You've got to bottle that! Thank you -- spread the word.
So, my last duty -- because lunch awaits -- as far as this meeting goes is to let you know about the next AGM.
The 2024 -- doesn't time fly -- AGM will take place on Friday 20 September.
Again, it'll be a hybrid meeting to help those who can't attend in person. You may have noticed that we've broken with tradition, and today's meeting is on a Friday rather than the traditional Saturday. It would be very helpful to hear your views on that, whether that aided you. And although we have a date for 2024, we don't as yet have a location, so keep your eyes peeled in the magazine and the website for confirmation in due course.
For those here who are joining me after lunch to watch the live recording of Love Scotland, I look forward to seeing you there. You're all welcome.
And for everyone else, have a great weekend.
Everything you have heard today, what has occurred, what we have achieved and what we are planning to do, we could not do without you. So, thank you very much, and hope to see you next time.