‘I just want my £200,000 donation back’

Joan Woolard outside the home in Fleet Hargate she sold for charity. SG200315-160TW
Joan Woolard outside the home in Fleet Hargate she sold for charity. SG200315-160TW

Oldie Heckler of the Year Joan Woolard has had second thoughts about the £200,000 donation she gave to a charity to help feed starving children.

The 75-year-old from Fleet Hargate says she has doubts about how the money was spent by the Kids Company and simply wants her money back.

However, this time Mrs Woolard’s cries of protest may not get the result she hopes for, because Kids Company CEO Camila Batmanghelidjh claims the Charity Commission has no concerns about the way things were handled.

Mrs Woolard sold her four-bedroom detached house in Eastgate in 2013 after hearing a Radio 4 programme about how the London-based charity helps vulnerable children.

She visited the charity, met with Camila Batmanghelidjh and offered to donate her house, but was told they could not accept it. So she sold it anyway and gave the charity the proceeds.

The charity has many high-profile supporters, including Richard Branson, Joanna Lumley and John Bishop, but many people questioned Joan’s generous actions. Some even thought it immoral to move into a council house just around the corner.

However, Mrs Woolard said: “I’m paying full rent for the house I’m now living in. Money never interested me – it’s just stuff. I’ve had a wonderful life and wanted others to benefit.”

Doubts grew when a friend asked how the money had been spend. Mrs Woolard said: “Kids Company CEO Camila Batmanghelidjh assured me from the very beginning that my donation would provide freshly cooked, nutritional food for hungry children.

“According to a special report prepared for me it appeared the bulk of my donation went on food vouchers without any receipts to show what food was bought with them. I regard this as a complete betrayal of my trust and have asked for my money back.”

Speaking to the Free Press, Camila Batmanghelidjh said she was upset about how things had turned out. She said: “We told Joan we couldn’t let her give us her house and be homeless, but when she turned up with the cheque we could see she was determined.

“I met her and contacted her regularly. Joan wanted the money spent on food and it has been. We have copies of receipts and our ‘thank you’ letter to Mrs Woolard. The children made her an art piece and there was an item in our newsletter.

“We are in contact with the Charity Commission on this and are following their instructions.”