John Fowler giving out cash grants to local good causes because he fears Ilfracombe is ‘being starved of funding and goodwill’...

NORTH Devon tourism magnate John Fowler is injecting more cash into Ilfracombe good causes because he fears the town is in danger of dying off.

Under the name Project Ilfracombe the holiday parks owner has donated some £20,000 this year and says half of his charity funds for 2014 are being given out as a series of cash injections to various Ilfracombe campaigns.

He says he feels the town is losing its life force, being starved of funding and good will, and is urging fellow local businesses to do much more to support the town, and to give generously to it.

“So many Victorian seaside towns decay and die - Ilfracombe is in grave danger of the same fate,” he said.

“But, there is energy and vision in the town that can be nurtured. With impressive work from projects such as Ilfracombe in Bloom, and Victorian Week, the town does feel really alive again at times. The hard working local people behind these efforts need encouragement.

“So rather than sending off charity funds to remote places around the world - not to say that isn’t worthwhile - but I’d wish more people would think to help the deserving causes right under their noses.

“I’m hoping my cash gifts will act as catalysts to inspire more businesses and philanthropists to get behind Ilfracombe’s efforts to thrive.”

Mr Fowler has holiday parks across the South West, including head office in Ilfracombe plus two in Combe Martin. The company has recently given help to the Somerset Flood Relief Fund, and has supported many overseas charity projects in previous charity rounds, but now wants to focus on the town where its business really took off.

The first beneficiaries of Project Ilfracombe will be: Ilfracombe in Bloom, the Victorian Celebrations, town bandstand, Ilfracombe Gig Club, Ilfracombe Town Crier, Ilfracombe Academy, Ilfracombe football and rugby Club, Holy Trinity Church, St Peters Church, Ilfracombe Rotary clubs and a Northfield Road restoration project.

The company is also donating £20,000 of its 2014 philanthropy to tackling cancer, with £10,000 going to Cancer Research UK’s local work, and £10,000 to the Chemo Appeal.