Free Yourself: What would you do with pounds 30,000?: Free with the Independent - you: how would our award enhance your life? Jonathan Sale asks the dollars 43,275 question

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LIBBY PURVES, writer and broadcaster: I ought to reduce the mortgage. In fact, I would take the children to the Seychelles and the Far East on a world tour - before they become teenagers and say 'It's all boring.'

Or I might put it on a horse. I've never had a bet on a horse in my entire life but I would go round to John McCrirrick, the Channel 4 racing presenter, for his recommendation. If it won, I would buy Punch magazine and employ lots of wonderful cartoonists. I wouldn't edit it myself but I would get wonderful people to run it for me. I'd do the odd piece, like Conrad Black in the Daily Telegraph about skirt lengths.

Paul (Heiney, her husband, the television journalist and farmer) would probably like a herd of pedigrees. No, he says he would spend the whole lot on fences and gates so the animals don't get out. But I certainly wouldn't waste it on any bloody mangelwurzels - and you can quote me on that.

SHEILA KITZINGER, social anthropologist and childbirth expert: I'd fund trips to discover images of birth in women's crafts all over the world - the hooked diamond in woven fabrics, for example, fertility symbols, and birth and breastfeeding sculptures celebrating the power of women. I'd go to Malaysia, Tibet and Nepal, to Pacific islands, to Anatolia in Turkey, where some of the earliest symbols of the Great Mother Goddess were created. To North Africa, and to South America, where midwives traditionally blew on a pottery pipe shaped like a woman giving birth to summon the Spirits to help.

Then I'd display them in a beautiful room with a view - a winding passage opening into a great cave by the sea, where the rush and swell of waves echoes the energy released in a birthing woman's pelvis.

LAURIE TAYLOR, Professor of Sociology at York University: I suppose I'd like to have some money to waste - thoroughly waste, because all my extravagances aren't real extravagances any more. I'm surrounded by people giving me financial advice and asking, 'Where have you got your money these days?'

I might say, 'Let's go for an expensive French meal,' but I've become very penny-pinching: I don't have the most expensive dish, I chose the fourth most expensive wine and I don't have liqueurs.

I'd get the pounds 30,000 in notes; cheques and credit cards are very restraining. You can get hold of a handful of notes; I'd spread it all over the bed. I remember Desperate Dan in the Beano would win great wads of fivers; and I remember all those old films about piles of money in suitcases. If I put all my assets together now, it might be as much as there was in those suitcases - but it doesn't feel like it.

When Tom Baker, who is a friend of mine, first had the job of Dr Who, he'd say, 'Have you got a lot of money?' When I said 'No' he'd give me lots. The last time I had any money was when I bet on a horse called Quai D'Orsai at Plympton; I put on pounds 10 and it won. The odds were 33 to 1, and the winnings were paid out by a man on the course. My pockets were stuffed with notes and, travelling home on the train, I thought I'd be mugged - much more than if I'd had credit cards on me.

Having the 30 grand would be my re-entry into the cash economy. I don't even say in advance what I would do with it; that would spoil it.

CLAIRE RAYNER, agony aunt: I'd put on a show right here in the barn. Remember those films when someone said, 'Let's put on the show right here in the barn'? Mine would be called Right Here in the Barn, a glitzy, jazzy musical with superb singing and dancing - and a really corny backstage story. I'd be the director, I wouldn't be on stage.

I'd immediately want to transfer it to the West End and Broadway - and make a fortune. I haven't got a barn so some of the pounds 30,000 would go in rent. I'd need a few angels.

In the Sixties I did start writing a show, called The Marie Stopes Benefit Night, but I got sidetracked.

PAT NEVIN, winger in the Scotland football team: I'd buy a flat in Edinburgh, or rather use it as a downpayment. It would be a wee base so I could go and watch the Festival. My wife's folks come from Coldstream, 60 miles to the south, and my folks come from Glasgow, which would make it pretty central.

Parked outside the flat would be an MGBGT; I used to have one once.

JILL FREUD, actor-manager: I run a small theatre company; we've just come back from a British Council tour of Pakistan. Since 1984 Jill Freud and Company has been presenting a season in Southwold, Suffolk, every summer.

As you leave the town, just before the bridge and the sign saying 'Toads Crossing', there's a building on the right- hand side called the Stella Peskett Hall. It was built as a theatre with a stage and gallery.

If I had pounds 30,000, I would take it in wads of notes to the Town Council, put it down on the table and try to 'persuade' them to let me use the hall as a place to store flats and sets. If we had it as a workshop and a scene dock, this would give us a permanent base in Southwold.

RABBI JULIA NEUBERGER, author, broadcaster and Chancellor of Ulster University: How much? pounds 30,000? I would give pounds 10,000 of it away to the charities I support. I would give half of it to Charter 88, to push the country towards a proper constitution, and the other half to the Centre for Peace in the Middle East.

I would use around pounds 5,000 of it to give a party. I actually had a windfall a few years ago, and I had a birthday party - my fortieth - at the Groucho Club. And I paid off my back income tax.

This time I would probably put pounds 5,000 into a pension. With the rest, I would build a conservatory in our house in Ireland. It's in West Cork and they call it 'the rabbi's house'.

If the sum I received were seriously large, I would set up a trust, a charitable foundation for charities to do with race and deafness, which are not seriously fashionable. That would be very life-transforming.

ADAM REYNOLDS, sculptor: For most artists, little or no money comes from the sale of their artwork, and a large amount of their finances comes from working in a restaurant, teaching or a not-too-stressful manual job. Painting and decorating is standard: you work your guts out for six weeks to give two months in a studio. Thirty grand to any of us would enable us to concentrate on working full-time.

I have muscular dystrophy and I'm a slightly peculiar shape, which alarms some people. Your muscles grow weak and from an early age I have had to do things in the way that I could do them rather than in the way that they are usually done.

I might get some lifting gear in the studio and have a part- time studio assistant.

The lease on my gallery - the Adam Gallery in London near the Imperial War Museum - is almost up, so I would spend seven or eight grand to renew it. My studio is half a barn in Buckinghamshire. To get more space, I would convert the woodshed.

DR ALAN MARYON DAVIS, public health specialist, media medic and percussionist of all- doctor group Instant Sunshine: A new set of drums would be nice. I also blow on silly bird-whistles and a replacement set of these would be handy.

Then I'd hire the Albert Hall and I'd bus in charabancs full of Radio 4 listeners who have fond memories of us. Yes, we'd pay them to come.

We would make the definitive LP, called At Last - Instant Sunshine Live at the Albert Hall, with audience sounds from people who were being paid to clap. That's where the money would go.

(Photographs omitted)

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