A millionaire businessman sold his motorbike collection to American TV host Jay Leno so that he could leave a £10m gift to a UK hospital which treated him for cancer.
Robert White, 62, left a legacy donation to Poole Hospital in his will as a thank you to the staff who treated him for a rare form of cancer called neuroendocrine tumours. Mr White raised £3.5 million for the 798 bed Dorset hospital by selling his collection of Brough Superior motorbikes to the American chat show host before he died in 2015.
The rest of his vintage bikes are set to be sold alongside his expensive watch collection in September by London-based auctioneers Bonhams. This is predicted to raise a further £3m towards his legacy donation.
Jay Leno said: “Robert and I spent time together in England before he died. He didn’t feel sorry for himself or ‘woe-is-me’. He realistically faced up to his position and decided he wanted to give something back to the people in Poole Hospital who had helped him with his illness.”
Debbie Fleming, chief executive of Poole Hospital, said: “Robert White’s immense generosity has enabled us to make a real step change in the development of cancer services in Dorset. We are truly indebted to him.”
His donation has set in place plans to build a new £7m cancer wing that will be named after him. It is hoped that this satellite radiotherapy unit will open its door to cancer patients by the end of next year and cut down journey time for people in the West Country.
Dr Mike Bayne, a cancer doctor at Poole Hospital, said: “The impact that Mr White’s incredible generosity will have on patients facing cancer in Dorset cannot be overstated.”
Mr White became a millionaire after growing what started as a small shop in Poole into an international successful photography business called Robert White Photographic Limited.
The ‘Robert White Cancer Centre’ is set to be built at Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester and will be operated by Poole Hospital's Dorset Cancer Centre team.