National Trust to keep challenging claims of 'Easter airbrushing'

The trust has faced criticism from the Church of England and politicians about a seasonal promotional event

The National Trust has said it will "continue to challenge accusations" that it has removed references to Easter from its promotional tie-in with the chocolate egg-maker Cadbury.

The trust was commenting after a day in which its holiday activities were the subject of great media debate, with even the Prime Minister moved to give her view.

In a story that first appeared in The Daily Telegraph, the Church of England accused the conservation charity of downplaying the significance of Easter, having changed the name of its annual Easter Egg Trail to the Cadbury Egg Hunt.

The church said in a statement: "This marketing campaign not only does a disservice to the Cadburys, but also highlights the folly in airbrushing faith from Easter."

The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, added: "To drop 'Easter' from Cadbury's Easter Egg Hunt in my book is tantamount to spitting on the grave of [John] Cadbury."

A response released by the trust the same day said the accusation was "nonsense". It said: "Nothing could be further from the truth."

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, also waded into the debate yesterday, labelling what the National Trust and Cadbury were doing as "frankly just ridiculous". A number of people took to social media to boycott the National Trust. Several said they would be cancelling their memberships. The story was given significant coverage by national media outlets.

In response to the extensive backlash, a National Trust spokeswoman has now said the organisation would "continue to challenge the accusations that we have dropped 'Easter' from the promotional activity supporting our Easter partnership with Cadbury".

The organisation's statement added: "We host a huge programme of events, activities and walks to bring families together to celebrate this very special time of year. Our website carries 13,000 references to Easter throughout."

The spokeswoman told Third Sector’s sister publication PRWeek that the trust had received a "significant number of supportive tweets, with many people intending to take up membership as a result of seeing how the trust responded to the story".

Other commentators took the opportunity to inject some humour into the situation, with Liberal Democrat leader Tim Fallon saying the fiasco was an "eggs-tremely big distraction" from bigger stories.

"I think we all feel poached by this whole sorry saga, but none of us more than Cadbury's and the National Trust, who have done nothing wrong and are right to feel egg-rieved by the criticism they have received."

This article first appeared in PR Week

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