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New Trustees helping to shape Wentworth Woodhouse’s future

By July 6, 2021No Comments

Three additional specialists have joined the board of trustees at Wentworth Woodhouse.

The Preservation Trust’s expertise has been strengthened by the arrival of Matthew Hirst, who is Curator at Woburn Abbey, and Rotherham Council’s former Head of Planning Bronwen Knight.

In addition, Rotherham’s youth champion Toni Paxford, who became a junior member of the board in 2019, is now a fully-fledged trustee and leading on establishing a Wentworth Woodhouse youth forum.

Toni, 22, of Kimberworth, is a youth and community worker. She rose to prominence in the town in 2017 when she launched Paige’s Project, a social action group for 11-25-year-olds with ‘invisible’ illnesses.

She went on to become a member of the Rotherham Youth Cabinet and the UK’s Youth Parliament and has added her expertise to projects with Rotherham Council, church organisations and the NHS Youth Forum.

Said Toni: “Wentworth Woodhouse has always fascinated me and I aim to encourage other young people to discover and support it and help,” said Toni.

Matthew Hirst brings his specialist knowledge of historic interiors to the board. He became Curator at Woburn Abbey in 2015 and is playing a key role in its current restoration.

Previously Head of Arts & Historic Collections for the Devonshire Collections, he managed a major conservation programme at Chatsworth and the representation of many of its historic interiors.

From 2000-2007 he was Curator at Waddesdon Manor, where he reinstated the 19th century Baron’s Room to its original glory after painstaking research.

Bronwen Knight is a chartered town planner. She was Chief Planner (Head of Planning and Transportation) at Rotherham Council for 15 years until 2020.

Under her leadership, Rotherham was the first authority in the region to adopt a Local Plan, bringing forward attractive, sustainable sites for development to grow the economy.

Her transformation of the service saw Rotherham named the best performing planning authority in the UK and win the 2018/19 RTPI Planning Excellence award.

Bronwen is now Director of Planning, Transportation and Strategic Highways at Wakefield Council and has a key role developing master plans, the local plan and new transportation projects and works closely with West Yorkshire Combined Authority on investment opportunities.

Bronwen in Rotherham and her keen interest in Wentworth Woodhouse goes back to childhood. She visited with her school when the house was used as the Lady Mabel College of Physical Education and in her career with Rotherham Council, she worked with the house on regeneration opportunities.

Established to secure a long-term future for Wentworth Woodhouse, the Preservation Trust is now made up of eleven trustees, including the Duke Of Devonshire, Sir Philip Naylor-Leyland,  a representative of the family that once owned Wentworth Woodhouse, and Rotherham businesswoman Julie Kenny CBE, whose passion drove the £7million purchase of the house in May 2017.

The board’s vast range of skills and knowledge runs from construction and law to finance, business management, conservation architecture and the upkeep of historic buildings.

Said WWPT CEO Sarah McLeod: “We are delighted to be adding further experience and knowledge to our board of trustees and are extremely grateful for every member’s time and commitment.”

Images: Bronwen Knight, Matthew Hirst (picture credit: Woburn Abbey), Toni Paxford, pictured in front of the North Pavilion at Wentworth Woodhouse.


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