Philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer has donated £1m towards tackling social deprivation and creating jobs in County Durham.
Investment banker Jonathan and his wife Jane made the decision to give County Durham Community Foundation the money to distribute on their behalf to cement their commitment to the local area.
The couple recently saved the Zurbaran paintings from being bought up and leaving the area with a £15million donation, and are restoring Auckland Castle with plans to develop it into a Christian Heritage Centre and a major tourist attraction.
Both have a love of County Durham and are passionate about supporting regeneration in deprived areas. Jonathan, who was born in Stokesley near Middlesbrough believes the North East needs to sparkle again.
“I am keen to support and build teams that will improve social deprivation and empower people,” said Jonathan.
“You might say that County Durham Community Foundation is one of those teams and by allowing them – as the local experts – to reach the parts that need help most, that leaves me time to channel my energies into developing my Auckland Castle project.”
Although they won’t be involved in the day-to-day decisions, the community foundation has developed programmes that match Jonathan and Jane’s charitable aims of helping people back into employment, raising aspirations and fulfilling potential – very much in line with County Durham Community Foundation’s core purpose.
President of County Durham Community Foundation and Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Sir Paul Nicholson said: “Jonathan and Jane’s vision and commitment for the Castle, Bishop Auckland and the people of County Durham are quite remarkable. We are overwhelmed by their generosity and the gift will make a huge difference to local communities.”
Mark I’Anson, chairman of County Durham Community Foundation said: “This is the largest single gift that our organisation has ever received. It is also very unusual for a donor to allow us the scope to distribute such a large sum to tackle the most pressing issues in the local area. We will be announcing more detailed plans in the coming weeks but a significant amount will be allocated to getting people back into employment.”
Chief Executive of County Durham Community Foundation, Barbara Gubbins added: “This is a great opportunity for us to look at the bigger picture, using Jonathan and Jane’s funding to do more strategic grant-making, whilst continuing to mix and match our other funds to make grants to voluntary-led groups who also vitally need our support.
“The combination of our programmes now makes us the largest grant-maker in County Durham.”