Wentworth Woodhouse CEO awarded an OBE

As part of the King’s Birthday Honours, the CEO of Wentworth Woodhouse, Sarah McLeod, was awarded an OBE for services to the heritage sector.

A photo of Sarah McLeod, CEO of Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham
Sarah McLeod OBE (Photo by Steve Bullock)

Sarah, who joined Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust as CEO in May 2017, has been pivotal in steering arguably the UK’s greatest heritage restoration challenge of a generation.

Weeks before she took the job, the Trust, led by Dame Julie Kenny DBE DL, had bought the dilapidated Grade I listed Georgian country house in Rotherham for £7m and needed to raise an estimated £130m to transform it into the UK’s most accessible heritage attraction.

Joining Wentworth Woodhouse was Sarah’s biggest challenge and risk to date. She had five staff, one phone line, no internet connection and one ancient vacuum cleaner to work with. But she came well-equipped with a wealth of experience gained from her role as CEO of the Arkwright Society, located at the historic Cromford Mills.

Over the last seven years, Sarah has developed and guided the Trust to become a busy trading business now turning over £3.5m a year. She’s successfully raised funding for, and delivered, almost £30m of capital works and launched the Trust’s masterplan and cultural strategy, creating over 100 new paid jobs and 300 volunteer roles.

The house is boosting the region’s economy, providing jobs, nurturing skills and enabling local people to participate in new creative and cultural activities.

On receiving her OBE, Sarah said: “For me, this award represents the hard work of everyone who works to protect and restore our historic places. Wentworth Woodhouse is so much more than a restoration project. We are creating something really special, and my role has allowed me, and the people I work with, to be really creative and innovative in our thinking. We do things differently to other country houses and we are very proud of that.

“When you work in heritage regeneration, you have a duty to treat our history with absolute respect and integrity, telling stories of the past whilst giving these wonderful buildings new purpose, and connecting them to current and future generations.”