March 29, 2010
It was only after so many controversial decisions
made by the management at Tyntesfield, that they began to realise the estate was
not just about a dusty old house that certain kinds of person enjoy endlessly
They finally thought it best to get someone in to look after the wildlife
before the last of it packed its bags and went. So, with much pomp and ceremony,
they appointed a warden.
I had already met this chap sometime earlier and he always struck me as keen,
hard working, cool headed and easy to get on with. In fact he was the perfect
choice and I was looking forward to working with him.
Now, as I had an interest in wildlife and had a good all round knowledge of
what was what, it seemed like a good ideal when my manager proposed I work with
him for two days a week. This was soon arranged and quickly came the day of
starting our working partnership.
Unfortunately, it was a no go on day one as his boss had organised a meeting
for him without his knowledge. As day two approached, the same thing happened
again. In fact, it was very rare that he could actually fit in any work outside
of the office at all.
I threw my hands up, gave up and reverted to my main role. On hearing this my
manager was disappointed. I pointed out that if someone cut the strings making
the warden dance to the management tunes we might be able to get on.
After about a month, the warden started looking worn down and for the first
time ever I heard him swear. Yes, the perfect clean cut chosen one had started
to despair with the bureaucratic interruptions that stopped him from doing his
work. This was now the beginning of the end.
As the weeks rolled on and the management took an even bigger interest in his
role, they interfered as they seemed appropriate.
But then came a break from the talking. The time had come for one of the
project plans to take shape. At last! Camera, action, etc…
Now we had on site the very best the Trust could muster and shape into a
formidable project team. In fact, the input from so many professionals merging
all their skills would make any plan bomb proof so what could go wrong?
It was planned that the arable farm land would once again be reverted to
pasture land with wild flowers etc. This was quite an expensive operation so all
had to run smoothly.
It was only when the warden looked at the plans and the proposed budgets that
he noticed a shortfall. Now the work was to have been done under the Countryside
Stewardship Scheme and so a proportion of the cost had to be met by the National
Unfortunately, there was no money allowed for the fencing, gates,
styles, in fact all things associated with land enclosure. All these things
added up to many thousands of pounds and one of the idiots in the office ( Heir
Doodle Bug) had over looked it.
If only someone had asked the warden, asked me in fact, or at least read what
the terms and conditions of the stewardship are it might have helped. Eventually
the management stopped flapping like a cheap yurt in a gale and found some money
and all went ahead at full speed.
Due to bad weather, the operation had to be suspended half way through and
the contractors pulled off. When they returned, the warden was out on a course
and so a manager from the office took charge and waved her arms to field that
she thought needed spraying off prior to seeding. The new tractor driver took to
spraying off thousands of pounds of newly seeded pasture land.
He was on one of his final sweeps with the weed killer when the warden
returning to Tyntesfield stopped on the driveway to see what was going on. At
this point the horror of the moment caught up and he begin screaming at the
tractor driver. This was the moment some passing staff found him sitting on the
drive way with his head in his hands mumbling.
This was a very costly mistake running into many thousands of pounds and so
it was thought best to hush the whole thing up, a sign of the times to come. (I
often come into contact with the contractors that carried out these works and we
still have a little chuckle over it).
Over time, the warden fought against the odds incompetent managers, lack of
facilities and a noticeable lack of help. He was awarded a prize for outstanding
achievements on the estate.
Now our senior manager informed him that due to shortage of space on these
events he wouldn’t be going. Evidently, just because you are being awarded by
the very top of the National Trust for out standing achievements doesn’t mean to
say you are invited, after all most VC’s are awarded posthumously aren’t they?
And to snub the recipient in this fashion is certainly a way to kill some one
off isn’t it?
And so our leader proudly picked up his award on his behalf, alongside all
the other staff that had also been awarded something similar in their field.
Another jolly good day out for the chosen.
On our leader’s return, we all waited for the presentation. But it simply
never came. By now, the whole estate knew that the award was on a desk just
waiting for the moment.
Soon after, he unfortunately found himself fighting for his job. He thought
this fight was worth fighting to the end. This was a fight against complete
idiots whose IQ’s were only dwarfed by their shoe size.
I can only imagine that those responsible for the decision have been
propelled through the ranks as a means to get them out of here through the very
common approach taken by most organisations to off load the incompetent – by
With a never ending stream of protests over his job loss, a
massive pile of overwhelming fact and figures that showed the post was needed –
he was an experienced bat handler with all the relevant tickets – and he was
saving the National Trust thousands of pounds a year, the position was
It was some time after he left, he returned to a going away party arranged
for him by staff and the many countless organisations that he had forged links
with. It seemed like everyone in the world was there to say good bye such was
It was during the evening that the senior manager stood up to say a farewell
and as an after thought handed him a brown envelope that contained his award.
There was a hushed silence of disgust and disbelief from all assembled. No one
had even thought of putting it in a cheap frame from the pound shop. The warden
stood there looking bemused and puzzled, he was expecting a P45. I couldn’t have
put a worse look on his face if I had kicked him in the shoe makers
I don’t think a speech has ever gone down so badly in history as the one
given by the relevant manager. It seems that the mood changed dramatically and
some left soon after, worried that the hissing was down to a pit of snakes that
had opened up.
It was soon after the warden left that things started to go pear shape again.
The property was now propped up from falling down by calling in other wardens to
cover the work (as if they never had enough to do at their own properties).
The Trust soon realised Tyntesfield once again needed a warden, or did they
know that all along ?
At this point I would like to give the HR a mention and say thanks a lot for
all your help that was part and parcel of the Wardens departure, and many other
Before I finish my story of the Tyntesfield horrors, I will cover the
performance of the HR department. I’m sure many staff across the Trust would
PS – If you’re thinking of similar plans on your property e.g. arable
reversion, get your manager to treat it as an Ikea project. Make sure they have
all the pieces as well as the instructions, get them to read the instructions
twice, and make sure a grown up is supervising at all times.