Britain's leading donors revealed

Julie Pybus

A Lancashire businessman who made a fortune from building conservatories tops a new list of the UK's most generous donors to charity.

John Lancaster, founder of Ultraframe in Clitheroe, gave nearly 7 per cent of his total wealth to charity in the latest accounting year, according to The Sunday Times Rich List 2003.

He is followed by the likes of property magnate Sir David Garrard, who gave more than 4 per cent, and waxed jacket millionairess Dame Margaret Barbour with 3.4 per cent.

The table is ranked according to the proportion donated of total wealth, including personal donations, donations to and from personal charitable foundations, and donations from companies controlled by each individual.

The donors who jointly gave the largest sum of money away were the brothers and aluminium traders David and Simon Rueben. They gave £62.1 million to educational causes.

While the new data reveals more about the giving habits of our richest philanthropists, it is not comprehensive because it relied on donors sending back questionnaires sent by the newspaper and The Giving Campaign to 1,000 people in last year's Rich List.

Sir John Paul Getty Junior, who died on 17 April, for example, is not included in the list of top donors as he did not return his questionnaire.

The Giving Campaign is pleased with this first step towards greater transparency from philanthropists. Spokesman Peter Gilheaney said: "We are delighted that people have been so open about their charitable giving."

He hoped that in future years increasing numbers of donors would reveal their charitable giving and, by doing so, help encourage a more open giving culture in the UK.

Among those to volunteer information was Arif Patel, a 35-year-old businessman who founded Faisaltex in Bolton, Lancashire, in 1987.

He built the company up with his two brothers, and it now supplies children's socks, underwear and pyjamas to discount stores such as Matalan.

Tenth on the givers' list is Doreen Lofthouse, the 73-year-old matriarch of Lofthouse, the throat sweet manufacturer from Fleetwood in Lancashire.

The company's best-known product is the Fisherman's Friend, the powerful lozenge invented in 1865 to soothe the throats of Fleetwood's trawlermen.

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TRIBUTES TO GETTY

The voluntary sector has praised the generosity of Sir John Paul Getty Junior, the multi-millionaire who brought an American style of philanthropy to the UK.

Getty, who died on 17 April, gave away £120 million of his estimated £1.6 billion fortune, including £50 million to the National Gallery and £17 million to the British Film Institute.

He also donated money through his charitable trust, founded in 1986.

The trust has given £22 million to more than 3,000 unpopular causes that 'alleviate poverty and misery'. These include projects helping mentally ill adults, drug addicts and homeless people.

"Getty demonstrated a large commitment to good causes," said Peter Gilheaney, spokesman for The Giving Campaign. "There are really no British equivalents, maybe we can learn something from our overseas neighbours."

The details of Getty's estate will remain unknown another 6 to 12 months.

His trust had assets of £42 million at the end of 2001.

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