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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 March, 2004, 17:34 GMT
Trust aims to shed 'twee' image
Sir Anthony Hopkins
Sir Anthony donated 1m to the Save Snowdon Campaign

The National Trust is hoping international figures like Sir Anthony Hopkins will help it shake off its "twee" image in Wales.

Although it still wants to stress the importance of jewels in its crown like Penrhyn Castle, Bangor, which saw visitor numbers increase by 20% last year to more than 130,000, the trust is keen to modernise its image.

It believes it is more commonly known for being the guardian of castles and gardens rather than 140 miles of coastline and 45,000 hectares of countryside in Wales.

Now it plans to draw attention to how Hollywood film star came to its aid in the Save Snowdon Campaign six years ago.

Then the Welsh-born Oscar winner donated 1m to buy more than 4,000 acres on Wales' highest mountain after it was put up for sale for 3m.

Penrhyn Castle, Bangor
Penrhyn Castle - one of the National Trust's stately homes

Gwynn Angell Jones, the National Trust's customer services manager in Wales, said it was keen to shed its "twee image" and attract modern figures like Sir Anthony.

"He's a bit of an icon and he was very interested and very keen.

"I know he has became an American citizen since but I know when he does return to Britain, he likes to spend his time in Snowdonia."

The National Trust's tradition is steeped in north Wales and the first property ever given to it was at Dinas Oleu above Barmouth in 1895.

Iwan Huws, the trust's director for Wales, will launch a brochure outlining its modernisation plans to AMs in Cardiff Bay later on Wednesday.

As a major hands-on landowner of some of Wales' best historic properties and spectacular countryside, he said the trust had an important contribution to make in supporting the assembly in its legal duty to promote sustainable development.

"I want the trust to be a key player in policy formulation, working for Wales," said Mr Huws.

A Welsh assembly spokesman said: "We value the important work of the National Trust in Wales in conserving our built heritage and it is important that they keep their work under constant review to ensure they meet the needs of today, while protecting the past."

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