Fiona Reynolds

Dame Fiona Claire Reynolds DBE (born 29 March 1958) is Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. She was the Director-General of the National Trust until November 2012.[1]

Dame Fiona Reynolds

Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge
Assumed office
October 2012
Preceded byLord Wilson of Dinton
Director General of the National Trust
In office
2001  11 November 2012
ChairmanSir Simon Jenkins
Succeeded byDame Helen Ghosh
Personal details
Fiona Claire Reynolds

(1958-03-29) 29 March 1958
Alston, Cumbria
Spouse(s)Robert Merrill (1981-present)
Alma materNewnham College, Cambridge

Early life

Reynolds was born on 29 March 1958 in Alston, Cumbria, England. From 1969 to 1976, she was educated at Rugby High School for Girls, an all-girls grammar school in Rugby, Warwickshire. She studied geography and land economy at Newnham College, Cambridge. She graduated from the University of Cambridge with a first class Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1979; as per tradition, her BA was later promoted to a Master of Arts (MA Cantab) degree. From 1980 to 1981, she undertook postgraduate study at the University of Cambridge. She graduated with a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree in land economy; a Cambridge MPhil is equivalent to a taught Master of Arts degree from non-ancient universities.[2][3]


Reynolds held senior positions in the Council for National Parks and the Campaign for Rural England before joining the Cabinet Office as Director of the Women's Unit in 1998.[3] She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1998.

She became Director General of the National Trust in 2001. During her tenure, membership of the charity, which looks after 612,000 acres (2,480 km2) of land in the United Kingdom, grew from 2.7 to 4 million people. She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours for "services to heritage and conservation".[4] In February 2010 she was a guest on Private Passions, the biographical music discussion programme on BBC Radio 3.[5]

Her appearance on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on 18 February 2010 added momentum to the campaign to "save" Abbey Road studios.[6]

It was announced in March 2012 that Reynolds would be stepping down as Director-General of the National Trust to become the next Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, in succession to Lord Wilson of Dinton.[3][7] She was admitted to her new post in October 2012, although was granted a leave of absence until October 2013. She was awarded the degree of Honorary Doctor of Science by the University of Warwick in January 2013.

Reynolds was chair of the judging panel for the Wainright Prize for nature writing in 2016,[8] and in 2017 published her own book, The Fight for Beauty: Our Path to a Better Future.[9]

Non-executive directorships

Reynolds became a non-executive director of the BBC in January 2012[10] and Senior Independent Director in December 2012.[3] She also joined the board of Wessex Water as a non-executive director in August 2012.[11]

Personal life

She married Robert Merrill in 1981 in Rugby. Together, they have three daughters.


  1. NT News item: Members say farewell to our charity chief Archived 11 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine,, 8 November 2012.
  2. "REYNOLDS, Dame Fiona Claire, (Mrs R. W. T. Merrill)". Who's Who 2015. Oxford University Press. November 2014. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  3. "Dame Fiona Reynolds". Emmanuel College. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  4. "No. 58557". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 2007. p. 6.
  5. "Private Passions - BBC Radio 3". Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. "Latest news". Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  8. "Judges 2016 - The Wainwright Prize Golden Beer Prize".
  9. "The Fight for Beauty".
  10. "Dame Fiona Reynolds, Non-executive Director". BBC. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  11. "We have a new non-executive director". Wessex Water. 3 August 2012.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Richard Wilson, Baron Wilson of Dinton
Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge
October 2012present
Succeeded by
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