Dec 07 - Mystery Legacies

The Royal Alexandra and Albert School in Surrey has recently been on the receiving end of some very generous legacies. What’s surprising about these legacies is that both benefactors had no known association with the School. The School is now trying to find out what caused John White and Maurice Chance to donate significant sums when neither had been a pupil.

The Royal Alexandra and Albert School is no ordinary school. It is one of the few state boarding schools in England, with over 400 of its 760 pupils being boarders. The School was formed from two schools that were originally orphanages. The tradition of helping disadvantaged children has continued with over 50 children at the school receiving assistance to enable them to board. Children who receive this assistance are those whose family circumstances make a boarding education desirable. These children receive opportunities that would otherwise have been beyond their reach.

Maurice Chance was in his 90s when he died some forty years ago. In his will he left a property and investments for the benefit of another person to use until their death. This person passed away this year and the solicitor for the estate contacted the School to say that the Mr Chance’s will is being completed and that the School would receive around £120,000 and 10% of a golf course in Pease Pottage. This was the first the School had heard about the legacy and as yet, they can not find any link with Mr Chance.

John White died recently aged 96 in the West Country, where he had lived for many years. Mr White, who never married, had come from a humble background and started his career as a kitchen hand in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. He worked his way up to run catering throughout Africa. Once the War had ended, Mr White worked for a café chain called Cadena. He worked his way up to become a director by the time Tesco took over the company in 1961. As part of the takeover, he was given Tesco shares which have soared in value.

A small part of Mr White’s estate, which is valued at over £2m, was left to family but the majority was split equally between four organisations;
- Keynsham Methodist Church
- Camphill Village Trust
- National Children’s Home
- the Royal Alexandra and Albert School
Each organisation will receive around £500,000.

Headmaster, Paul Spencer Ellis says ‘We would love to know what the thinking was behind these generous donations. This money will be used for the benefit of future generations of children at this school, particularly those whose home circumstances make it desirable for them to board’. He continued ‘Whilst the fees at this school are nowhere near the cost of independent schools, we strive to increase its accessibility to disadvantaged groups of children’

The School has not yet decided how to spend the money but is considering a number of options;
- Increase the number of free places for children whose home circumstances make boarding desirable
- Extensions to two boarding houses
- Contribute to a new teaching block which will include two science labs, a dance studio and two classrooms.
It is likely that the buildings would be named after the benefactors.

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