The veterans charity Help for Heroes will receive more than a quarter of a million pounds from the failed attempt to sound Big Ben when Britain leaves the European Union.
The campaign group StandUp4Brexit and the Conservative MP Mark Francois had been running a crowdfunding campaign on the GoFundMe platform in a bid to raise the £500,000 that it would cost to enable the bell to be rung.
The bell is out of action while the tower undergoes a major refurbishment, so money would be needed to make a temporary arrangement for it to chime at 11pm on Friday, when Britain is due to leave the EU.
The fund raised £272,760 through more than 14,000 donations since the campaign was launched on 15 January, but in a statement yesterday organisers said they had failed to secure agreement from House of Commons authorities that the bell should be rung and were therefore closing the fund.
“Nevertheless, we did make plain from the outset that if we were unsuccessful in raising the total and facilitating Big Ben to bong, then any remaining funds in the account would be donated to Help for Heroes,” the joint statement from Francois and StandUp4Brexit said.
“Every cloud has a silver lining and in this case it is that our military veterans who have been wounded in the service of their country will now receive a very substantial donation, thanks to your generosity.”
Mel Waters, chief executive of Help for Heroes, said news of the gift came as a “big surprise” to the charity.
“While Help for Heroes is not a political charity and this was a big surprise to us, we’re grateful that the public donated on the understanding that if the campaign didn’t reach its target the money would go towards funding support for our wounded veterans,” she said.
“Our income is falling, with public donations across the military charity sector in decline. We work closely with others in the sector to ensure we can continue delivering vital support to those most in need, for as long as they need it.”