Thanks to 'Mr Preston' Trevor Hemmings - the man who secretly gave millions away to charity
The death of Trevor Hemmings will be deeply felt across the nation - and not just in the high profile world of football and horse racing.
Away from the unwelcome spotlight of professional sport, the intensely private brickie-turned-billionaire chose to remain deep in the shadows as he secretly gave away millions to numerous charities close to his heart.
The true value of his contribution to organisations caring for the sick, the vulnerable and the needy will probably never be made public.
As one charity spokesperson in Lancashire put it: "Trevor didn't do it for publicity. Most of what he did has never been made public and never will be."
One donation which escaped the cloak of anonymity was a £1m gift to Princess Anne's Carers' Trust to support unpaid carers.
Another was a £300,000 handout to build a centre for victims of sexual abuse at the Royal Preston Hospital in 2002. Without the help of his TJF Foundation the unit might never have got off the ground.
In almost two decades the SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Examination) centre has offered medical examinations, help and support to hundreds of women, children and men who have experienced the trauma of sexual assault or rape.
It is understood that during the Covid pandemic he quietly supported health charities which were fighting to survive at a time when public donations were close to drying up.
Kevin McGee, chief executive at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Mr Hemmings has been a very valued supporter of our hospitals for many years and his generosity has made a huge difference to patients and their families from across Lancashire and South Cumbria.
"On behalf of the Trust, and our charity, I would like to issue our condolences to the family and friends of Mr Hemmings for their sad loss."
The list of organisations the businessman helped during a lifetime of philanthropy is endless. Macmillan Cancer Relief, St John Ambulance, Red Cross, Samaritans, Injured Jockeys' Fund, Racing Welfare, the RNLI and the Crimestoppers Trust are just a few.
In one rare interview with a racing paper the three-time Grand National winning owner said: "I probably give about eight or ten times more to charities in a year than I spend on horses. So I think my perspective is good."
In the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours List Trevor was made a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) for his work as vice-president of the Princess Royal Trust for Carers, now the Carers' Trust. He regarded Princess Anne as "a good friend."
When his death was announced the Trust issued a statement saying it was "deeply saddened" by his passing.
It read: "As well as his immense contributions to both National Hunt racing and Preston North End Football Club, Trevor Hemmings was a great supporter of unpaid carers.
"He was instrumental in the formation of the Princess Royal Trust For Carers in 1991, the charity that merged with Crossroads Care in 2012 to form Carers Trust.
"It was his great ambition to establish support centres for unpaid carers across North West England. And with his constant support, the Princess Royal Trust For Carers was able to significantly increase its support for unpaid carers in the region, expanding the number of support centres for unpaid carers from five to 25.
"When the Princess Royal Trust For Carers found itself experiencing financial difficulties, it was Trevor Hemmings who decisively turned things round with a donation of £1 million, as well as additional support.
"Over the years he raised £8 million for unpaid carers, holding dinners, gala balls and nights at the races. He was also instrumental in arranging respite breaks for thousands of carers who enjoyed trips to Pontins in Harrogate and on the Isle of Man."
Carers Trust Chairman, John McLean OBE, said: “Trevor Hemmings was a great champion of unpaid carers. Without his deep commitment and generosity, there would not be the level of support there is today for unpaid carers across the UK.
"Better than most, he understood just how important it is for unpaid carers to be given funded breaks, contributing to The Princess Royal’s Respite Fund For Carers just a few months ago.
“On behalf of the staff and trustees at Carers Trust, as well as unpaid carers everywhere, I would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude for everything he achieved for carers, and our deepest sympathy to his family.”
On a more local level Trevor was a long-standing supporter of Rainbow Hub at Mawdesley which looks after children with severe disabilities.
A spokesman at the charity said: "We are so very sorry to hear of the sad passing of a dear friend of ours. Trevor Hemmings was a treasured supporter of Rainbow Hub, and his belief and support has helped us to become the charity we are today.
"We will be forever grateful for all that he did for us and the families who attend. We will miss his regular phone calls, visits and chocolate treats.
"He was an incredibly kind man who will be dearly missed by us all. Our sincere condolences are with his family, and we are keeping them in our thoughts."