HELEN MUNRO, chief executive of Stratford-upon-Avon Town Trust since 2012, is to retire in October this year.
Mrs Munro’s period at the helm of the trust – a charity whose origins pre-date the birth of William Shakespeare – has been turbulent.
There was a major row over plans to build up to 80 homes on Rowley Fields, on the lower slopes of the Welcombe Hills, together with the £675,000 purchase of a house in Benson Road, Stratford in order to demolish it and erect five executive houses on the adjoining land.
The Rowley Fields proposals were eventually withdrawn – following a torrent of protests – but the Benson Road plans are still very much alive.
Such was the emotion generated by the proposals for Rowley Fields that it led to the resignation of the trust’s then chairman, John Lancaster and later its deputy chairman, Charles Bates.
Interestingly – and ironically – Cllr Bates and his wife, Cllr Tessa Bates, along with Cllr Tony Jackson, have been selected by Stratford-upon-Avon Town Council to be the authority’s representatives on the board of the trust to replace the current council-nominated trustees.
Another controversy has been sparked the trust’s decision to sell the Grade II listed building in Rother Street, Stratford known as Mason’s Court by auction on 9th May with a guide price of £275,000.
The property – which dates back to around 1460 – is made up of four cottages and needs £1 million spent on repairs.
Regarding her forthcoming retirement, Mrs Munro told the Herald:
“I have loved my time at Stratford Town Trust. It has been a privilege working with so many different organisations.
“I feel proud to be part of a charity that does so much good in the town and makes the lives of others better. I work with an excellent team of trustees who keep me on my toes but are very supportive and professional – a huge thanks to them for appointing me four years ago. It’s now time for my husband and I to pursue our other interests.”
The trust’s chairman, Alan Haigh, said: “The trustees are very sad that Helen has chosen to retire, but we respect her reasons and wish her and her family well. She has worked tirelessly for the trust and has achieved so much – she will be a very hard act to follow.
“Helen has been instrumental in securing the redevelopment of Bell Court, in bringing key worker accommodation to Warwick House and bringing Hotel Du Vin to Stratford.
“She was the driving force behind the new Stratford ArtsHouse, our £1 million CommYOUnity Challenge and the projects that have been enabled at Tyler House, the Community Pavilion and The Old Slaughterhouse, and now, in securing the £100,000 Lottery grant to begin our major conservation project at the Guild Chapel.
“Yes, there have been challenging times, but there have been very many more good and we thank Helen enormously.”