Ken Townsley has continued his philanthropic spending spree by buying two new 4x4s for a resort charity to use in Malawi.
The rags-to-riches entrepreneur made his fortune in the travel industry before pledging £100m to good causes, with Blackpool-based Feet First Worldwide the latest to benefit.
Mr Townsley’s Kentown Wizard Foundation has bought the charity two new Toyota Hilux 4x4s to replace the two 15-year-old vehicles its volunteers were using to get on with their orthopaedic work in the north of the African country.
The foundation said the cars are essential for the safety of the medics who travel on dangerous roads to remote villages to set up mobile operating theatres so children with club foot and other debilitating conditions can be treated.
The new buy – no figure was put on it by the foundation – comes after a grant from Kentown Wizard last year enabled Feet First Worldwide to quadruple its missions in Malawi and perform life-saving operations on even more children. Vital skills are also passed on to local doctors and healthcare assistants.
Project director and surgeon Steve Mannion said: “We are thrilled with the cars. They are robust and will each carry a team of five in relative comfort along with all our equipment and baggage.
“They have also been fitted with extra safety features such as roll-bars and collision bars front and rear”.
Margaret Ingram, chief executive officer at the Kentown Wizard Foundation, added: “We are extremely happy to have been able to help Steve and his team with the new vehicles. It will also save the charity excessive repair bills so that money can now be spent on more lifesaving procedures or equipment”.
Mr Townsley was born in Blackpool in 1945. At 15, he started working at Blackpool Airport as a traffic department apprentice doing everything from baggage handling to shipping cargo.
After being made redundant, he opened his first travel shop in Church Street, Blackpool town centre, with two members of staff.
He turned Gold Medal Travel into a huge empire he sold to Thomas Cook in 2009 for a reported figure of £87m.
Since then, Mr Townsley has been enjoying retirement and splitting his time between his homes in Florida, Thailand, the Bahamas, and St Annes.
In 2015, he made the decision to set up the Kentown Wizard Foundation and use his vast wealth to help others.