Former University of East Anglia student takes the reins of region’s National Trust

Ben Cowell

Ben Cowell - Credit: Archant

A SAFFRON Walden man has taken the reins of the region’s National Trust.

Former University of East Anglia student Ben Cowell, who was most recently in charge of the charity’s policy and external affairs work, has returned to his roots as regional director and will lead a team of over 500 staff and 5,000 volunteers.

Mr Cowell, who lives in Saffron Walden with his wife and two sons, said he was delighted to take up the role.

“I have loved the people and landscapes of the east of England for as long as I can remember,” he said. “I studied as an undergraduate at UEA in Norwich, where I specialised in landscape archaeology.”

The National Trust looks after wonderful places, wildlife, collections, community spaces and heritage for the benefit of everyone – in the east that includes miles of coastline, important houses and special countryside including one of the nation’s most ancient woodlands at Hatfield Forest near Bishop’s Stortford.

For many years Mr Cowell was a civil servant at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in London, before joining the National Trust’s external affairs team in 2008. Last year he led the charity’s campaign to influence the National Planning Policy Framework which, he said, represented “one of the biggest challenges to the shape of our country since the 1930s”.

Mr Cowell is keen to emphasise the way in which the National Trust is “more than a day out”.

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“We offer so much to so many people – learning about the places and people who have shaped the character of our region, enjoying the wild nature and wildlife from coast and countryside, or just putting your feet up and enjoying a cuppa and a cake,” he added.

Anthea Case, chairman of the National Trust’s East of England Regional Advisory Board, said: “I’m thrilled that Ben has taken up the reins of the National Trust here in the east.

“He demonstrates great enthusiasm for the special places that we look after whether they are mansions, parkland, coast or countryside.

“His passion is backed up by years of experience in the sector and he will help develop the many ways in which the Trust supports people, nature and the economy of the east.”