Ex-miner's £10m gift to good causes

A FORMER Leeds miner turned multi-millionaire entrepreneur is to give £10m to his home city's charities.

Jimi Heselden OBE, born and brought up in Halton Moor, is making the donation to mark a bumper 2007 in which his firm, Hesco Bastion of Cross Green, Leeds, had a turnover of 196m.


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He is to set up the Hesco Bastion Fund, to be run by The Leeds Community Foundation, which distributes grants to local groups and charities in need of support.

Mr Heselden said: "Last year was exceptional. I told my auditors I wanted to put some money aside for charity and they told me about the community foundation.

"I have given to charity for the last 20 years, depending on how much the company has made, and I've supported St Gemma's, Wheatfields, Martin House and St James's Hospital.

"Because we did so well last year I was able to give a bit more. I'm happy to be able to help out."

Sally-Anne Greenfield, the foundation's chief executive, said: "It is the biggest single donation I have heard of. Hopefully the fund will last for some time, it could well form a permanent legacy for Jimi and Hesco Bastion. We are enormously grateful."

Mr Heselden, 59, went from school to the pit at the age of 15, having stints at Waterloo Colliery, Temple Newsam and Lofthouse. He left mining after the strike in the early 1970s.

In 1973, he and a friend invested in a sandblasting machine and he cashed in on the North Sea oil boom, sandblasting oil storage containers.

Jimi explained: "One of them was so big I had to take a hill out of my yard to get it in. It needed shoring up, so I put mesh around it and filled it with the spent grit and shot."

That idea led to the 350-worker business that Hesco Bastion is today.

The company has contracts across the globe to supply the Concertainer, a collapsible mesh box fitted with a special textile lining.

The boxes are sent flat-pack to wherever they are needed and then filled with rubble.

Since 1991, Hesco has supplied the Concertainer to the military. The invention is also used to build motorway walls, flood defences and artificial lakes.

Mr Heselden ranked 539 in the 2005 Sunday Times Rich List.

The grandfather-of-five said: "You could say I am giving a bit back. I believe that if someone makes it in business they should donate something to charities and people in need."

Any inquiries about the Hesco Bastion Fund should be directed to the community foundation on 0113 242 2426.