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A Lifelong Passion, Made Manifest in a Legacy Gift

Chelcey Berryhill - Wednesday September 30, 2015 14:00

One Anglophile’s journey home, through the Royal Oak Foundation’s Legacy Circle.

By Ellen (Nell) Whiting | Heritage Circle Member | Princeton, New Jersey

Nell with HRH Prince Edward at a Royal Oak event.

Nell with HRH Prince Edward at a Royal Oak event.

As a child in Maine, I was keenly aware of my British heritage because my family, the Libbys, had arrived in the colonies from Cornwall in 1635 on the Hercules. My ancestor, John Libby, ran a trading post in what became Scarborough, then part of the colony of Massachusetts. After growing up on these stories, I longed to go to the UK for years, and the opportunity came when I was in high school. My parents booked passage to Southampton on The Queen Elizabeth 2’s return leg of her maiden voyage. I can honestly say that stepping onto the pier was coming home.

From there I had to wait until college to spend my junior year in Abersytwyth, at the University College of Wales, where I studied Celtic literature and tried to learn Welsh. I actually lived in a Welsh-speaking hall and made lifelong friends. I can even swear a bit in Welsh to this day! During what became my annual trips to see friends, I often explored and it was only natural that I wanted to become a supporter of the National Trust. Having the opportunity to do exactly that, and in a tax-advantaged way through The Royal Oak Foundation, has given me access to the fascinating work that the National Trust does. A few meetings at Royal Oak and a couple of chances to attend the Timeless Design Gala had me well and truly hooked.

Nell, traveling to the UK with her parents.

Nell, traveling to the UK with her parents.

I began sponsoring lectures when Damaris Horan was the executive director. For as long as I have been involved with the organization, the professionalism of the staff at Royal Oak has impressed me. The programs for members and the choices of projects to support have been carefully arranged and skillfully managed. Staff rarely changes and I developed close relationships with so many other hard- working members of the administration.The access I have enjoyed through Royal Oak is truly remarkable, too. On my desk are pictures of me with the late Dowager Duchess of Devonshire and HRH Prince Edward. Where else but at Royal Oak lectures could I have had the chance to talk so candidly with them?

When the challenge to establish a vibrant legacy society for Royal Oak was announced, I leapt at the opportunity to participate. Having worked in financial services for the high net worth market, I specialized in managing private foundations. I know very well how crucial it is to an organization to have a solid, robust legion of members who are dedicated to providing ongoing funding. Giving with a warm hand, seeing how the future of the Royal Oak becomes more and more secure, and knowing that our wonderful programs will continue for the future were ample reasons to make provision in my will for a bequest.

There are so many ways in which we can perpetuate the work of Royal Oak and they are all so very easy to accomplish. While adding an outright bequest in my will suited my own estate plan currently, there are other ways of providing legacy gifts to Royal Oak. All of them are easily done and provide welcome tax advantages. Securing the future of The Royal Oak Foundation secures our cherished past.

The Legacy Circle recognizes those who wish to create a legacy by remembering Royal Oak and the National Trust of England, Wales & Northern Ireland in their estate plans.

For more information, contact Executive Director Lori Brittle at or 212.480.2889 ext. 202.