Secret donor was behind Eigg bid

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A millionairess from the North-east of England yesterday emerged as the mystery benefactor who enabled the Scottish islanders of Eigg to buy their island.

The woman, whose identity is being kept a secret, is believed to have given them around pounds 900,000 - the bulk of the pounds 1.5m purchase price.

Maggie Fyffe, the secretary of the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, who has lived on the 7,400-acre outcrop off the north-west coast of Scotland for 21 years, said: "It is true that we were contacted by this woman who kindly came to our help, but I am sworn to secrecy - it was apart of the deal that the woman should remain anonymous." She said the woman was not famous or a celebrity. "This benefactor was like all the others who contributed to the fund - a member of the public who had become aware of our plight."

In December an initial bid of pounds 1.2m was rejected by the then owner, the German artist Maruma, and a month later the Trustees of the Heritage Lottery Fund turned down their appeal for financial help. On Friday, a creditor of Maruma, the Hong Kong-based businessman Hans Rainer Ehrhardt, accepted the pounds 1.5m bid.