The Fight for Beauty – why it matters more than ever

Dame Fiona Reynolds DBE.  Credit:  Marcus Ginns

Dame Fiona Reynolds DBE. Credit: Marcus Ginns

31 January 2023

Dame Fiona Reynolds DBE will deliver a public lecture at Aberystwyth University as part of the celebrations to mark the institution’s 150th Anniversary.

Drawing on her long career in the voluntary conservation sector, Dame Fiona Reynolds will deliver a talk ‘The Fight for Beauty – why it matters more than ever’ on Thursday 9 February at 5pm in Aberystwyth Arts Centre Cinema.

Her lecture will question why beauty matters, and how beauty can be important when crises in climate, economy, nature and public health loom large.

She will make a case for the fight for beauty and consider how ideas of beauty from the past can help us towards a better future.

Dame Fiona Reynolds draws on her wealth of experience as Director General of the National Trust, Director of the Women’s Unit in the Cabinet Office, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the Campaign to Protect National Parks.

Dr Louise Marshall, Head of the Department of English and Creative Writing, said:

“Dame Fiona Reynolds’ distinguished career and experience has provided her with a unique overview of the struggle between economic progress and conserving the beauty of the world we live in. Her lifelong belief in the immense value of natural beauty to the human spirit has made her a passionate advocate for the need to balance public policy with the conservation of cultural heritage and the natural environment.” 

Dame Fiona’s talk will be preceded by the launch of Aberystwyth University’s new Centre for Creative Wellbeing.

Based in the Department of English and Creative Writing, the Centre works with writers, artists, craftspeople and researchers from a range of disciplines to provide practical wellbeing opportunities and impact policy in settings such as health, education, youth work and community groups.

Researchers from the Centre for Creative Wellbeing are currently working on projects exploring how creative activity can change approaches to anxiety, sleep, chronic pain, long Covid, mental health, domestic abuse and community farming.

The Centre is led by Dr Jacqueline Yallop, Reader in Creative Writing, who said:

"We're delighted to welcome Fiona to launch the Centre. Her talk on 'The Fight for Beauty' reminds us to find space for the things that really matter in life, and which money can't buy."

The Fight for Beauty – why it matters more than ever’ will take place on Thursday 9 February at 5pm in Aberystwyth Arts Centre Cinema.  The event is free to attend, and all are welcome.  Places can be booked by contacting Aberystwyth Arts Centre Box Office on 01970 62 32 32 or online at:

Dame Fiona Reynolds DBE

Dame Fiona Reynolds DBE was Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge from 2012 until 2021 and Director-General of the National Trust from 2001-2012.

She is currently Chair of the National Audit Office, the Council of the Royal Agricultural University, the International National Trusts Organisation, the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England, Cambridge University’s Botanic Garden and its Bennett Institute for Public Policy.

She is a trustee of the Grosvenor Estate, the Green Alliance and the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission, and a non Executive Director of Wessex Water.

Her book The Fight for Beauty was published in 2016.

Fiona was appointed CBE for services to the environment and conservation in 1998 and DBE in 2008.