We arrived in Cambridge mid-day on Saturday for the 16th International Conference of National Trusts. Even through our jet-lagged fog, we were charmed by this beautiful city as we met two friends and colleagues from the International National Trusts Organisation (INTO) for lunch in an English pub across from King’s College.
The meal and an afternoon nap were the refreshments we needed before heading out to dinner at the Polonia Club (who knew they had a Polish Club in Cambridge?). The occasion was a delightful evening with the members of the INTO Executive Committee and Secretariat to toast our outgoing chairman, Simon Molesworth of Australia. Simon has guided INTO for 10 years, first as head of the steering committee and then as the founding chairman, first elected to his post in New Delhi in 2007.
Several of us spoke that evening about Simon’s service as the founding chairman of INTO, and his indefatigable work ethic through the years. There was more than one mention of his joining our bi-monthly conference calls at midnight from Australia, so that those of us in North America and Europe could be on at more reasonable hours of the work day. Others spoke of his vision for INTO, his ability to listen to all points of view, and his care for the world’s cultural heritage. INTO Vice Chairman Bill Turner of Canada reminded us of Simon’s habit – while walking the Camino de Santiago last year in Spain – of handing out pens to local dignitaries along the way…and adding to the age of the eucalyptus tree from which they were made with each telling.
I spoke of Simon’s optimism, which will always be a trait I will associate with our founding chairman of INTO. That outlook opened up new opportunities for the organization. He is optimistic about the role young people will play in heritage conservation, as seen through the service of his own daughter as the volunteer head of INTO Farms. Simon is optimistic that in the face of extensive world troubles, caring for our built and natural heritage is an important part of the way forward.
After ten years of service and investment of great personal time and resources, Simon turns over the reigns of INTO to Fiona Reynolds, the former Director-General of the National Trust in the U.K. I am thankful for Simon’s work and for his unfailing commitment to the work of INTO to “promote the conservation and enhancement of the cultural and natural heritage of all nations for the benefit of the people of the world.” Simon ensured that INTO – an international network of National Trusts and similar non-governmental organizations – was globally diverse but united in a shared commitment to work through cooperation, coordination and comradeship.
I join colleagues from around the world in saluting you, Mr. Chairman, and in thanking you for your invaluable service.
More to come…