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Lord Ashcroft

Posted by Caribbean World Magazine on 8 June 2021 | 0 Comments

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8 June 2021

To the U.K., he is Lord Ashcroft the billionaire author, pollster and businessman. To Belize and the Caribbean region he is an islander with a philanthropic heart of gold.

Lord Michael Ashcroft KCMG has a long-standing reputationthroughout the Caribbean for his strong sense of civic duty. As a resident of Belize, with dual British-Belizean nationality, Lord Ashcroft’s commitment to serving many charitable causes on the island has inspired a generation with community-minded spirit. In 1986, he foundedCrimestoppers as a community-based program designed to help law enforcement solve crime via anonymous help from the public in exchange for rewards of up to $1,000. Since it launched, 25 years ago, Crime stoppers has led to the arrest of 120,000 criminals.

In 2020, Lord Ashcroft joined The Giving Pledge, becoming the 105th billionaire to pledge at least 50 percent of their wealth to charity. Ranging in age from 30 to 90, members of The Giving Pledge includes more than 200 of the world’s wealthiest individuals, couples, and families. Globally, they represent 25 countries, from Australia, Brazil, Canada and China to Cyprus, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Tanzania, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

In the same year Lord Ashcroft set up funding streams Belize-wide in the island’s fight against Covid 19. Limited government resources were supported by donations from Ashcroft’s charitable foundation to add screening and testing facilities to the island’s Philip Goldson International Airport. Over the course of the past 16 months, Chairman of the Lord Ashcroft COVID-19 Relief Fund Committee, Mr.Lyndon Guiseppi, has delivered cheques to Nurses, Doctors and Medical staff in the Ministry of Health and a wide range of education providers in the Ministry of Education - amongst many. Though he retains enough to provide financial security for his family, the majority of Lord Ashcroft’s estate is pledged to his charitable foundation. A number of civic and community buildings in Belizedisplay a thankful plaque or monument that bears his name.

Another initiative, the Lord Ashcroft International Business School at Anglia Ruskin University, founded in 1999, continues to offer student scholarships. Lord Ashcroft also established a secondary school with a tech-studies focus while, as the main investor in Flooved, a startup company offering free educational resources, hecontinues to support apprentices keen to upskill in mathematics and science. 

So, who is Lord Ashcroft?

Born Michael Anthony Ashcroft on 4th March 1946, he now ranks amongst the 100 richest people in the UK, according to the Sunday Times Rich List, with an estimated fortune of £1.2billion. Lord Ashcroft made his name in business when, in 1974, he bought a failing business called Uni-Kleen for just one pound, successfully selling it for £1.3 million just three years later.  He remains active in British politics, having penned several books on the subject (17 books at last count) and also serving as former treasurer and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party from 2005 to 2010.  He still works as a government advisor in various capacities and runs several political websites.  He was knighted in 2000 for his significant contribution to the United Kingdom and the commonwealth. He is also honorary chairman and a former treasurer of the International Democrat Union, vice-patron of the Intelligence Corps Museum, chairman of the trustees of Ashcroft Technology Academy, a senior fellow of the International Strategic Studies Association, a former trustee of Imperial War Museums and was chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University until he stepped down in 2020. His books include Victoria Cross Heroes: Volumes I and II; Call Me Dave: The Unauthorised Biography of David Cameron; White Flag? An Examination of the UKs Defence Capability; Jacobs Ladder: The Unauthorised Biography of Jacob Rees-Mogg; Unfair Game: An Exposé of South Africas Captive-Bred Lion Industry; and Going for Broke: The Rise of Rishi Sunak.

Though he was made a life peer in 2000, he resigned his membership of the House of Lords in 2015 to concentrate on other areas of his life. He retains many, varied business interests with significant investments and participation in both public and private companies in the United Kingdom, United States and Caribbean. At various times, he has run companies employing more than 100,000 people. Lord Ashcroft has built up the largest collection of Victoria Crosses (VCs) in the world – more than 200 – which are on public display at a gallery bearing his name at the Imperial War Museum, London.

Yet it is altruistic endeavours that have embedded him into the community fabric of the island of Belize, his home for most of life.  He grew up on the island after his father had been posted there by the Foreign Office. In 1982 he revisited the country as a young man, and fell in love with its people and culture for a second time. His funding of educational causes and charitable projects in Belize and neighbouring islands brings him into direct contact with islanders in all areas of society and in 1998 – 2000 he was the Belizean Ambassador to the United Nations. It was the Belizean Government that was nominated him for his knighthood, citing his extraordinary “public service to the community and country of Belize” for his appointment of Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG). A keen whale spotter, he has funded several campaigns in the Caribbean to stop whale hunting. He is also an active campaigner against captive lion breeding and runs a programme for war veterans with PTSD working with orphaned rhinos in Africa.