The Wordsworth Trust

The Wordsworth Trust, nestled in the heart of the Lake District, embarked on a transformative journey through the Steps to Sustainability programme.



Rooted in preserving the legacy of Wordsworth and the Romantic period, The Wordsworth Trust brings art and literature alive for tens of thousands of people every year. The Trust sought to create ‘Premier Tours,’ offering a tailored experience for individuals or families. However, as the programme progressed, a significant shift occurred. Instead of emulating high-end dining experiences, the team embraced authenticity. Working with local artisans to recreate the essence of Wordsworth’s era, including tea, coffee, and period-inspired cakes, brought a unique and genuine touch to the tours. They would feel more like what a ‘Wordsworth’ would experience.

The team felt that the programme provided the right ‘dynamism’ that the Arts Council looks for, but also what the museum looks for in its future development. A previous participant of the programme encouraged them to sign up.

Programme Impact

The Trust’s Director, Michael McGregor, emphasised the transformative impact of Steps to Sustainability during a visit.

He reflected that, with a newfound model in place, the organisation is poised to leverage internal expertise for future projects. The Profit Purpose matrix continues to be a guiding tool, particularly in navigating the challenges of monetising activities within the museum sector. This reflection underscores the enduring impact of Steps to Sustainability on the organisation’s strategic thinking and operational approach.

Beyond the immediate project goals, the programme played a pivotal role in securing Resilience and Recovery funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The legacy of the programme extends beyond financial support; it has become ingrained in the organisational mind-set.

If we hadn’t done Steps to Sustainability, we wouldn’t have considered resilience funding.”

The Wordsworth Trust identified several tools and resources provided by Steps to Sustainability as invaluable. Tools like the Profit Purpose matrix, The Why?, and considerations of the visitor journey have become integral to their decision-making processes, ensuring strategic alignment and meaningful visitor experiences.

The team’s stand-out moments from the programme were:

1. Flexibility and Adaptation

One standout of the programme was its flexibility. Recognising that the original project timeline needed adjustment, the Wordsworth Trust had the flexibility to reallocate the budget for additional officer development time. This adaptability proved instrumental in refining the details of the ‘Premier Tours,’ ensuring meticulous attention to historical accuracy and a truly unique visitor experience.

2. Community and Diversity

The strength of the programme lay in its diverse cohort. The Glasgow event, in particular, provided a platform for dynamic conversations and cross-sector learning. The interactions with peers, mentors, and sector experts created a collaborative and supportive environment. The diversity within the group, including officers, trustees, and volunteers, offered a wealth of perspectives and insights that enriched the learning experience.

3. Resilience Funding

Beyond the immediate project goals, Steps to Sustainability played a pivotal role in securing Resilience and Recovery funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The programme’s emphasis on strategic thinking and sustainability directly contributed to the success of the funding application.

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