British inventor and vacuum tycoon Sir James Dyson has donated £35m to his former school – Gresham’s in Norfolk – to redevelop a former council outdoor education centre, the BBC reports.
Gresham’s bought Holt Hall in Norfolk, formerly used by schools for residential visits, earlier this year.
Despite opposition from campaigners, it was sold off by Norfolk County Council, which said it was loss-making.
Sir James said they plan to turn it into a prep school with an “outreach programme for local schools”.
The inventor, who grew up in Norfolk, boarded at Gresham’s where his father was a teacher.
When his father died, aged 43, the then-headmaster provided Sir James and his brother with bursaries so they could continue their studies for free.
Sir James previously donated £18.75m to Gresham’s for a new building and said he was “forever grateful for the generosity” the school had shown him.
Gresham’s bought Holt Hall for a reported £4.25m.
“Holt Hall is a magnificent setting and when it came up for sale we had the extraordinary opportunity to rescue this Victorian hall, to provide a new setting for a cutting-edge prep school for Gresham’s pupils,” he said.
He also said the redevelopment would feature a field studies centre and outreach programmes for local schools, including outdoor activities at Holt Hall and residential stays.
Head master Douglas Robb said the school was “enormously grateful” for Sir James’ donation and that the expansion was needed as its current facilities are “cramped”.