Hilary, who is the conservation charity’s Chief Operating Officer, said she was ‘immensely proud’ after being appointed to the Trust’s most senior leadership role.
She will officially take over on March 12, next year. Hilary succeeds Helen Ghosh who announced earlier this year that she was stepping down to take up a new position.
Tim Parker, the Trust’s Chair, said: “The decision to appoint Hilary was made by the Board of Trustees and I am pleased to say the decision was unanimous.
“Hilary’s appointment followed a rigorous selection process during which we considered a range of excellent candidates from a variety of different backgrounds and organisations.
“I look forward to working closely with Hilary over the coming years and know she will do an outstanding job leading the Trust.”
Hilary, 51, has worked for the National Trust for 12 years, the last four of which have been in the executive team role of Chief Operating Officer.
As Chief Operating Officer, Hilary has overall responsibility for the operation, care and management of the Trust’s property portfolio in England, Wales and Northern Ireland comprising almost 250,000 hectares of countryside, 778 miles of coastline and more than 500 historic buildings. She oversees the daily running of all the Trust’s properties, including conservation and visitor experience, along with the charity’s commercial business. The Trust has enjoyed four consecutive years of growth in visitor numbers, income and conservation spend.
Hilary previously worked as the Trust’s Regional Director firstly in Northern Ireland, then Wales and finally London and the South East.
Originally trained in graphic design, Hilary’s career path started in the drinks industry in brand and marketing. In 1998, she moved to become director of a national arts charity and was subsequently seconded in 2002 to become CEO of Belfast’s bid to become European Capital of Culture. A two year return to the private sector as cultural tourism consultant preceded her move to the National Trust.
Commenting on her appointment, Hilary said: “I am immensely proud to have been appointed as Director-General of the National Trust. This is a charity I love because it looks after the things that matter to me personally, the outdoors, the arts, heritage, nature and beauty.
“But more importantly these are things that I believe matter to the nation which is why we have 5 million members and many more supporters. I am looking forward to building on that support and inspiring even more people to look after the places that matter to them.”
The Trust’s current Director-General, Helen Ghosh, will leave the charity in early March to take up a new role as the Master of Balliol College, at Oxford University.
During over five years at the helm, Helen has overseen the implementation of an ambitious 10-year strategy, which has seen the Trust return to its roots by playing an active part in meeting some of the big challenges facing the nation such as the declining health of the natural environment, and the loss of green spaces in towns and cities.
Membership numbers and visits have soared since 2012, with both now at all-time high.
Around 25 million people paid to visit a Trust property last year, while there were an estimated 200 million visits to the coastlines and countryside the charity looks after for the nation.