This is how much rags-to-riches philanthropist Ken Townsley has given to charity since pledging £100m to good causes

editorial image
Share this article

Rags-to-riches Fylde coast philanthropist Ken Townsley has given away £10 million to good causes in just two years.

It means the former Blackpool Airport baggage handler, who made his fortune after setting up his own travel agents, has given away around 10 per cent of the £100m he pledged to help children’s charities.

Donna’s Dream House in the resort and Brian House Children’s Hospice in Bispham are among those who have benefited from his generosity since he set up the Kentown Wizard Foundation in 2015, with him bankrolling five-star facilities and nurses’ wages, among other things.

And now he has given Christmas grants to two more charities – taking his total spend this year to £1.4million.

Some £10,000 will go to Rainbow House in Mawdesley, which supports 90 families a week, mainly from the Lancashire area, while the same sum will be given to Stick n Step in Runcorn, which runs specialist sessions for youngsters with cerebral palsy.

“We’re delighted to be supporting Rainbow House,” Margaret Ingram, chief executive officer at Kentown said. “Its vision is to run a centre of excellence for children with life-limiting disabilities whilst inspiring and empowering them to become more independent and increasing their life skills.”

Ben Blackman, chief executive at Rainbow House, said: “We are very grateful to the Kentown Wizard Foundation for its generous grant, which makes a significant difference to the services we can provide, enabling children to reach milestones their families were told may never be possible.”

Ken, now 73, started working at the airport at 15. He worked his way up to position of manager for British Eagle Airways until it closed and he was made redundant in 1968.

He used his redundancy money to set up Trident Travel, later renamed Gold Medal Travel, in Church Street, Blackpool town centre, which he later sold for £87m – landing himself on the Rich List.

The media-shy tycoon, who spends much of his time in Florida but still has a flat in St Annes, set up the foundation, which seeks out worth causes and does not take submissions for grants, with the sole purpose of helping the Fylde coast’s sickest children.

Among the generosity shown to Brian House, in Low Moor Road, included sponsoring the annual Santa Dash, and pledging to fund two nurses – at an ongoing cost of £75,000-a-year.

Donna’s Dreamhouse was gutted and given a full refurbishment, with Kentown’s £40,000 paying for the materials.

Other donations have included funding a charity golf day at Royal Lytham and St Annes, giving £865,000 to a charity founded by the late Oscar-winning Hollywood actor Paul Newman, and paying £23,000 so 46 epilepsy alarms could be handed out across the north west.