Modest Wagon Wheel magnate gives pounds 20m to British Museum

THE MAN who invented the Wagon Wheel biscuit has donated pounds 20m to the British Museum, the largest sum of money it has received from a private benefactor.

Garry Weston, 72, the chairman of Associated British Foods plc, gave the money for the museum's Great Court Scheme, a restructuring and reorganisation of the London site. The gift has pushed the museum fund-raising beyond its target of pounds 97.9m.

Mr Weston, whose personal wealth is estimated at pounds 1.5bn, said it was also the biggest donation the charitable Garfield Weston Foundation had made.

"We recognise the outstanding quality of the Great Court scheme and its vital importance to the future of our national museum, the great museum of world culture," he added.

Gerard Vaughan, the director of the British Museum Development Trust, said he was amazed by the generosity.

"Two years ago Mr Weston gave us pounds 10m anonymously and more recently it came to his attention that we were into the final phase of fund-raising and we had pounds 10m to go. He said because the foundation had started the donations for the project they would like to finish it off and gave us another pounds 10m."

The Great Court scheme, part of a project that includes restoration of the museum's famous Round Reading Room, is to open in November 2000.

Associated British Foods owns Twinings Tea, Silver Spoon sugar and Kingsmill bread. Mr Weston has been the chairman and chief executive since 1967 and his family owns two-thirds of the firm. Last month they received a pounds 300m payout from the sale of the Irish retailing businesses to Tesco several years ago and in 1998 they got nearly pounds 50m.

Late last year Mr Weston announced that he would retire as chief executive in June but will continue as chairman. It has been suggested that this decision was made to avoid a succession battle between his three sons, who all hold senior positions in the business.

Despite his enormous wealth, Mr Weston is happy to spend the weekend fixing the lawnmower and he often travels to work on public transport. His car is a second-hand Mercedes that was going spare after a senior executive was made redundant.

Fiona Foster, administrator of the Garfield Weston Foundation, said: "They are a very modest family and they do not seek publicity.

"They support a wide range of charitable activities including the arts and are very pleased to support significant projects like these."

The Garfield Weston Foundation was established in 1958 and endowed by Mr Weston's father Willard Garfield and two generations of the family. Its income has grown from pounds 118,000 in 1960 to approaching pounds 30m in the current year, in parallel with the growth of Associated British Foods.

Mr Weston was born in Canada, the fourth of nine children, and came to Britain in 1931. It was while running the family bakery in Slough in the 1950s that he hit upon the idea of the Wagon Wheel biscuit after staff complained they were not making anything new.

nTwo men have been arrested over a pounds 1m armed robbery of an art gallery. About 50 police, some armed, raided an industrial estate in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. All 20 paintings taken from York City Art Gallery in January, including an 1820s Turner watercolour, were recovered. The museum curator, Richard Green, said: "They are in good condition given what they have been through, much better than we expected."

The men, aged 29 and 49, from Rotherham, are being held for questioning.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform