Social skirmishes

● A much-loved and well-used parenting group in our area facing closure has just been saved (until the next financial year, at least) by an anonymous benefactor who presumably read about their plight in the local newspaper. In its own small way, it mirrors the benevolence I read recently of the Hintze Family Charitable Foundation in Wandsworth, south London, which offered £1m to re-establish a local museum closed by the council and a further £1m to run it for five years.

Despite these examples, I am reliably informed by the Institute of Philanthropy that, despite UK citizens today enjoying a lighter tax burden than our forebears, this alleviation of fiscal weight has not been matched by a rise in charitable giving.

Of course, perhaps the biggest philanthropists are Bill and Melanie Gates (although what Mel sees in him, one can only imagine). Their foundation has a $34.6bn investment fund – an estimated one-third of Microsoft’s founder’s personal fortune. The Gateses’ philanthropy has ambitious targets, including eradicating Malaria (which I believe to be a thrash metal band) and river blindness (presumably people who are in denial about rivers).

Somebody once worked out that if Gates stuffed all his money under his mattress it would take him 18 minutes to hit the ground. Indeed, as the comedian Rich Hall pointed out, if you took the interest made from that money and put it under the mattress as he was falling, technically he would never hit the ground causing Hall to declare: “The man is richer than gravity!”

Our local philanthropist may not be in the same league but her (or even his) generosity has saved a fine local service from hitting the ground with a final bump.

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