Dawnay, who spent 22 years working as a journalist before taking up public affairs in 1998, joined the trust this week.
Reporting to director of customer services Anne Dixon, he leads an 18-strong team and has overall responsibility for the trust’s press office, members’ magazine, website, external relations and internal comms.
He said he plans to ‘press the Government hard [to] keep it focused on the importance of heritage as a business and amenity that serves the community’.
He added that he intends to review all aspects of the communications operation, although he has no plans to bring in a PR agency.
Dawnay’s priorities will be to bolster the trust’s reputation for regenerating the countryside and protecting the nation’s natural and built heritage, as well as raising awareness of its work promoting understanding and education in the community.
‘I will attempt to make sure that the National Trust’s role in looking after the nation’s heritage is more publicly demonstrated,’ said Dawnay.
He replaces Jon Barton, who left in March to start up his own consultancy.