Secret millionaire's act of kindness in Blackpool

WORKERS at two Blackpool charities were left dumbstruck after being duped – but in a nice way – by a Secret Millionaire.

As The Gazette revealed on Saturday, steel tycoon Gary Eastwood went undercover as a documentary film-maker to learn about good causes in the resort.

And after hearing heart-warming stories about how local organisations helped deserving children and adults he opened his chequebook.

Millions last night watched Londoner Gary give cash to Donna's Dream House, which provides holidays for terminally ill children, and the Vincent House homeless hostel.

Each netted 20,000 for a host of refurbishments to their facilities which bosses say will make a massive difference to the people they serve.

Mr Eastwood also handed war veteran Jim Baker, president of Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Royal Marines Association, a cheque for 10,000 to give to a charity of his choice.

"I never got chance to say 'thank you' to my grandfather for what he did during the war," Mr Eastwood added. "This is my small way of doing that."

Donna's Dream House, off Chapel Street, Blackpool, have used the cash for a massive investment in their play facilities for their young visitors including brand new jacuzzis.

And Vincent House, on Furness Avenue, Grange Park, splashed their cash on refurbishing their dining room and creating "moving on packs," which give vital items like kitchen appliances and food to their residents when they are ready to live independently.

Founder of Donna's Dream House, Len Curtis, said: "It was a total surprise.

"Gary came to film with us under the premise that he was doing volunteering work.

"He then sprang the surprise on us that he was the Secret Millionaire and said there were a number of things he wanted us to do.

"He gave us a cheque for 20,000 and while he was here he worked with families, even going around the Illuminations with them.

"The contribution he gave has certainly made a massive difference."

Maureen Ramsdale, housekeeper at the hostel, added: "He spent all day with us on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday during a week last October, and got to know people really well.

"They have all sorts of problems, from drug addiction to alcoholism and tremendous emotional issues.

"He returned on Monday, came into the kitchen with extra cameras and closed all the doors.

"He announced he hadn't been entirely honest, and told me he was a millionaire."

* For full story, see tonight's Gazette