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Builder who wanted 'to help the man on the street' leaves £1m to UEA

PUBLISHED: 08:56 31 October 2019 | UPDATED: 11:55 31 October 2019

A Young Enterprise Trade Fair at the UEA. A Norwich builder has donated £1m to the university in his will for a student enterprise fund. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

A Young Enterprise Trade Fair at the UEA. A Norwich builder has donated £1m to the university in his will for a student enterprise fund. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

An East Anglian builder will be helping the next generation of businesspeople in the region after bequeathing almost £1m to a Dragon's Den-style student enterprise scheme.

Vice Chancellor of the UEA David Richardson. Picture: UEAVice Chancellor of the UEA David Richardson. Picture: UEA

William Arthur Hamlin said in his will that he was "determined to help the man on the street" - the motivation behind his significant donation to the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Essex-born Mr Hamlin built five properties in Norwich and rented them out to students and learned from them the challenges which students face today.

His gift of £943,000 will go towards the UEA Enterprise Fund, which gives students financial support to realise their business plans. The pioneering fund has awarded grants worth almost £240,000 to 16 businesses since it was launched in 2017.

Mr Hamlin's sister Alison said her brother had always wanted to help people with good ideas but without the means to execute them.

Sophie Cox and Finbarr Carter, part of the team at the UEA Enterprise Centre. Picture: Henry IddonSophie Cox and Finbarr Carter, part of the team at the UEA Enterprise Centre. Picture: Henry Iddon

Speaking to the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), she said: "My brother wasn't very clever in school but he was always very practical and resourceful. He liked gardening, and as a teenager he sold the vegetables he grew to the local community.

"He found school challenging, and he always wanted to help other people like himself who had ideas in life and who knew what they wanted to do, but didn't necessarily have the resources."

The CAF's legacy team, with whom Mr Hamlin left his instructions for the gift, has advised UEA to encourage those from less affluent backgrounds to apply for a portion of the fund.

If selected they will face a panel of 'dragons', comprising local and national businesspeople and UEA alumni.

The funds will be allocated at two key stages: through start-up grants of up to £7,500 to help entrepreneurs test out their ideas; and small-scale investments of up to £50,000 to help them develop their business.

Professor David Richardson, UEA vice-chancellor, said: "Arthur Hamlin's gift will help transform the lives of UEA's emerging entrepreneurs by supporting new business ideas that will have a lasting impact both here in Norwich and globally.

"His legacy will ensure that UEA continues to instil the spirit of innovation and enterprise, on which UEA's very foundations were built.

"It will enable our entrepreneurs from all backgrounds to create good in the world for many generations to come and we're very grateful to CAF for their support in helping us realise Arthur's wishes."

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