Holiday pioneer Michael Wright helped raise nearly £2.5 million for underprivileged children – after being moved by the plight of youngsters in warzones.
The £884,690 donation to Hope and Homes for Children from the entrepreneur, who was 25th in this year’s Post Rich List, was match funded by UBS Wealth Management, with a further contribution from the UK’s Department for International Development.
In total the charity, which aims to end institutional care for children across the globe, received a sum of £2,477,412 to bolster its fight to help youngsters facing a life in orphanages and other care centres.
Mr Wright, who remains a shareholder in long-established Riviera Travel following the sale of a majority stake to Phoenix Equity Partners, said experiences of witnessing the plight of children in warzones such as Bosnia and Rwanda had sparked his desire to help poverty-stricken youngsters.
“My daughter Millie is 18 now, and I remember when she was two, she was sat on the settee gurgling away, and there was an item about the Bosnian War on the TV and they were showing an orphanage which had been destroyed.
“The children were trying to keep their spirits up, they were counting the number of shell-holes in the building and when they got to 1,000 they didn’t know what to say.
“I can remember we went to Rwanda, took part in a peace marathon and did a fun-run. There was a girl there who was raped when she was nine years old, and she had got Aids. She knew that she was not going to grow up. It is a cruel world.”
Mr Wright said Hope and Homes for Children needed £50 million in its fight against child poverty.
“There is no such thing as a good institution. What they need is the love of a good family.
“Children in orphanages do not get a vote, there is an orphanage in Sudan which has a child mortality rate of 50 per cent.
“My wife Claire is a full-time volunteer. The charity is trying to eradicate orphanages and institutions worldwide, but it needs £50 million to do that. People do not know how lucky they are – 80 per cent of the world’s population are not in a good place. It is a rough old world if you are born into that.
“I want to thank UBS massively for funding it. Bankers do not get a great press but I have been with them for seven or eight years.”
Mark Waddington, chief executive of the charity said: “We have got eight million children in orphanages and institutions around the world. We have worked with over one million children in 20 years. We have 1.1 million in Europe alone, quarter of a million in Africa.”
Phil Wood, Regional Head of UBS Wealth Management, said: “In 2014 we took a decision to have a dedicated philanthropic specialist arm in the UK. We have had an office here in Birmingham for the past 12 years.
“Most of our clients are high net worth individuals. It is generally clients who have been entrepreneurs and have sold their business and are looking for sensible, practical advice.”