When Martin Ainscough CBE and his brothers Brendan and James sold their family Crane hire business for an incredible £255million Martin could have been forgiven for sailing off into the sunset to celebrate his incredible fortune. Not a chance. Martin was back at his desk the following day.
Were you not tempted to disappear on a super yacht after selling up?
No! I couldn’t think of anything more boring. I worked in our family scrap metal business since I was 13 years old. After the sale I still had a number of other business ventures to keep my eye on. And I felt incredibly fortunate to have achieved so much. I was raised to help those in need and whilst we’d always supported charities, now I had my chance to make a massive difference both financially and by giving my time.
You helped get Cheshire Community Foundation off the ground.
Yes I gave some seed funding because I really believe in what they do. After our sale I set up the Martin and Judith Ainscough Charitable Trust and put £10million into a pot. But we were absolutely overwhelmed with requests for help. It’s a huge leap of faith who you can trust. CCF have specialist knowledge of the charities and hold them to account. They have the local expertise which is so appealing to donors wanting to give back to their own community. They basically take the headache out of giving.
How have you been helping people caught up in Covid-19?
The Medical Director at Wigan Hospital rang me and said they were desperate for PPE and could I help. My wife Judith and a circle of friends worked together to make 1,000 gowns and I sourced 100,000 plastic aprons to give to the hospital and care homes. I was like the Amazon man delivering them all. Doctors, nurses and health workers are doing an amazing job in very difficult circumstances and I was very happy to help.
How will the epidemic affect the charity sector?
Coronavirus is bigger than all of us. Everybody has been impacted by it. Of course financially disadvantaged people will suffer the most and it’s critical that charities are able to help them. Raising money is hard work at the best of times but then you read about 100-year-old Colonel Tom Moore and his remarkable efforts in raising over £32 million and counting by walking laps of his garden it lifts the spirits. What a fantastic man. It just shows if you get the public mood behind you what an incredibly generous nation we can be.
What sparked your interest in Philanthropy?
I grew up in a big family of nine children in Wigan. My late father Gerald and his brother had a scrap metal business. Whilst not being a large business, mum and dad were always incredibly generous. On occasion one of their workers would spend their wages on booze instead of food for the family. If this was the case my dad would make sure he gave the wife groceries instead to feed the children. My parents gave a small piece of land away so a community centre could be built on it. This narrative of giving stayed with me and sparked ambition in me because I recognised you could not give it away if you haven’t earned it.