Scots tycoon plans biggest donation in the history of Band Aid

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The Independent Online

The multimillionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist Tom Hunter has pledged to donate up to £6m to add to the sales of the Band Aid single.

The multimillionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist Tom Hunter has pledged to donate up to £6m to add to the sales of the Band Aid single.

Inspired by a recent television documentary, which suggested the situation in Ethiopia had barely improved since 1984, the Scottish businessman has promised to match the proceeds of the chart-topping single and the Live Aid DVD.

Following a meeting last week in London with Sir Bob Geldof, in which he informed him of his intentions, Mr Hunter said he planned to match every £10 spent on the concert DVD and every £4 on Band Aid 20's "Do They Know It's Christmas?", which is designed to raise money to fight hunger in Africa, principally Darfur in Sudan.

The meeting came about after he had held discussions with the scriptwriter Richard Curtis, who is the driving force behind the Make Poverty History campaign, and an announcement earlier this year to donate £100m of his fortune to charity.

The Ayrshire-born tycoon, who is reputed to be the richest Scottish national with a fortune of £500m, already has his own charitable institution, The Hunter Foundation, which he uses to help children with their education and sharpen their enterprise skills. Mr Hunter's gift to Band Aid is the single biggest donation it has received in its 20-year history and the first donation the tycoon has made to a charity that spends its money abroad.

Band Aid 20's cover of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" features Coldplay's Chris Martin, Dido, Robbie Williams and the U2 frontman Bono, who sang on the 1984 original. It is currently outselling the whole of the top 20 best-selling singles combined. For the past two weeks the song has topped the charts and is expected to sell 800,000 copies by tomorrow when it will be confirmed as the Christmas number one.

The original version sold 750,000 copies in the first week of its release in 1984 and went on to shift more than 3.5 million copies. "Through The Hunter Foundation we are making a small contribution to an absolutely massive problem and asking others to join this campaign," said Mr Hunter, who added that there was now a real chance of eradicating world poverty in our lifetime. "We can make a difference and with the G8 meeting in Gleneagles next year, we need to let the world know the situation needs to change."

He has also promised a further £1m to fight world poverty, build schools and combat HIV and Aids across Africa.

Mr Hunter, who has built up a multimillion-pound fortune in 14 years after he started selling trainers from the back of a van, is Britain's biggest charitable donor. This year he has promised to give away more than 21 per cent of his wealth in an attempt to nurture entrepreneurial skills in schoolchildren.

The self-made millionaire became the biggest sports retailer in the UK with the formation of Sports Division, which he eventually sold to JJB Sports in 1998, netting a £260m fortune.

Four years ago he became the biggest donor to Strathclyde University when he gave £5m to set up the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship. Already this year he has donated £5m to Glasgow's Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum to fund an education wing and made a £1m donation to the annual Cash for Kids appeal run by the city's Radio Clyde.


The world's richest man, Bill Gates promised this year to give his $3bn (£1.6bn) share of the $75bn that Microsoft will dole out to its shareholders over the next four years, to charity.

Sir Elton John is Britain's second largest single donor to charity, behind Tom Hunter, giving 11 per cent of his £200m fortune. The Elton John Aids Foundation has distributed $30m for HIV/Aids prevention and the elimination of prejudice. He has also launched a £1m scholarship for students at the Royal Academy of Music.

Sir Sean Connery donated his entire salary, more than $1m, from the James Bond film Diamonds are Forever to the Scottish International Educational Trust, which helps higher education students in his homeland.