Billionaire inventor James Dyson donates £35m to his former school

Billionaire inventor Sir James Dyson has donated £35m to his former school, which allowed him to continue his studies there for free after the death of his father.

The 76-year-old entrepreneur was a nine-year-old pupil at the private Gresham’s school in Holt, Norfolk when his father Alec Dyson, a classics teacher at the school, died of cancer.

Mr Dyson was 43 when he died in 1956.

Sir James said the then-headmaster, Logie Bruce-Lockhart, allowed him and his brother to continue their education at the school with a bursary.

His donation will fund a prep school with a new building incorporating STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) facilities for pupils aged seven to 13.

Sir James said: “I’m forever grateful for the generosity Gresham’s showed me when my father – who was head of classics at the school – died when I was nine.

“Logie Bruce-Lockhart, the headmaster, allowed my brother and me to continue our studies with a bursary when it would otherwise have been impossible.

“I’m so pleased to be able to support the school and to see it shaping incredible young people who go on and flourish.”

Sir James, who invented the revolutionary bagless vacuum cleaner, and his family were ranked as the fifth richest in the UK in this year’s Sunday Times Rich List with an estimated fortune of £23bn.

He previously donated almost £19m to Gresham’s for the Dyson STEAM building, which opened last year.

Douglas Robb, Gresham’s headmaster, said: “We are enormously grateful for the generous donation of Sir James Dyson and the James Dyson Foundation.”

Earlier this year, Sir James pledged £6m to his local state primary school in Malmesbury, Wiltshire but said this was blocked by officials – a claim denied by Downing Street.

The billionaire businessman said he had been trying to give a grant to the Malmesbury C of E school through his charitable foundation to help with the building of its new science and technology centre and expansion by 210 places.

“But the local authority and Department for Education say no, citing the risk of other schools having insufficient numbers,” Sir James wrote in a letter to The Times.

Asked why the government was stopping the new science and technology centre from being built, the prime minister’s official spokesman told reporters in October: “That’s not an accurate characterisation.

“There is a formal process that rightly needs to be followed, a decision hasn’t been made. Certainly, we are extremely grateful for Sir James Dyson’s generosity.

“We’ve been dealing with that request to expand the school as quickly as possible since it was submitted over the summer.”

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