Savile’s change of heart puts good cause in a fix

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SIR Jimmy Savile withdrew a £30,000 donation to charity days before he died, leaving a funding black hole which urgently needs filling.

An arts project for disabled people at Stoke Mandeville Hospital was in line for the cash from Sir Jimmy’s charitable trust but one of the TV star’s last wishes was for the money to be cancelled – to the shock of those behind the scheme.

Mike Mackenzie, chairman of Poppa Guttmann Trust, said he was baffled by Sir Jimmy’s change of heart.

“It’s impossible to know Jimmy’s mind. One possibility is he mistakenly thought we had raised enough money already or it was just a very strange decision.”

Sir Jimmy raised millions of pounds for Stoke Mandeville Hospital until his death in October.

But Mr Mackenzie believes Sir Jimmy made a number of uncharacteristic decisions during the last few weeks of his life.

“It’s a great shame and very out of character. We were surprised and I admit slightly appalled he had this change of mind,” he said.

“I don’t want people to think we are whingeing after his death. He was always a huge supporter to me personally and obviously Stoke Mandeville Hospital and to the Poppa Guttmann Trust in theory.”

Mr Mackenzie met with the trustees of The Sir Jimmy Savile Stoke Mandeville Hospital Trust after the entertainment legend’s death. He said: “We had a long session discussing the moral reasoning behind it and tried to present it as being something maybe he didn’t really understand or mean.”

However, the trustees voted against giving them the money.

Trustee Luke Lucas said: “It was Jim’s choice and the trustees agreed it. That was what he wanted. He (Sir Jimmy) didn’t give any reasons. He knew what he was doing. His body gave up, not his mind.”

The Sir Jimmy Savile Stoke Mandeville Hospital Trust has a total of £1.7 million in funds.

Mr Lucas said the money, including the £30,000 will eventually be used to the benefit of ‘poorly people in hospital’ at Stoke Mandeville.

Mr Mackenzie said he hopes the money can be raised by June 24, when The Poppa Guttmann Trust will also be unveiling a statue of Ludwig Guttmann who pioneered the treatment of spinal injuries and encouraged the disabled to take up sport, leading to the foundation of the Paralympic Games.

The Poppa Guttmann Trust aims to employ an arts co-ordinator for a year to work with disabled people at the hospital. Mr Mackenzie said: “The project will carry on Guttmann’s legacy of getting people to do things and try something which might lead to a new pastime or career.

“Not everybody can do sport.

To donate to the charity, log on to the Poppa Guttmann Trust website by clicking here