Frugal man is secret millionaire philanthropist

The family with one of the new scanners

James Redgate, a frugal and quiet man from Nottingham, died in 2011, but the truth about his fortune has only just emerged. He hadn't earned much on the railways, and had lived in a council flat in the city. However, he had been saving his wages and his pension all his life, until by the age of 83 he had £1.1 million.

On his death, he decided not to give it to friends and family - but to leave it all to the Nottingham Hospitals Charity.

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Redgate never married or had children, but is survived by his sister Joan and other close relatives (pictured). They told the Daily Mail that they were surprised, but pleased - and that his mother would have been proud of him.

The Nottingham Post reported that Redgate donated the money anonymously, but now the charity has decided to buy two new CT scanners for hospitals in the city with his donation, and have unveiled a plaque marking the generous gift. The charity told the newspapers that they were incredibly grateful for the gift, which would make an enormous difference to patients, and help early diagnosis and treatment.

Secret millionaires

It's an astonishing and generous donation, but Redgate is one of a number of a select group of highly unusual people who chose to live frugally so they can leave their money to others.

They include Jack MacDonald, who led a frugal life in Seattle and even wore clothes with holes in them. He died last year aged 98 and left $1.87 million split between the Salvation Army, the Seattle Children's Research Institution and the University of Washington School of Law - where he had studied. As we reported, he had been left money by his parents, and had focused on investing it carefully. He married, but his wife died, and while he had stepchildren, he had no children of his own. His stepchildren said the family was pleased with how he had chosen to leave his fortune.

Around the same time, Kathleen Magowan, a teacher from Simsbury in the US, passed away. She thought she was worth about $40,000, but her twin brother's wise investments over the years had taken her fortune to $6 million. On her death she gave $5 million to local charities, including the school where she taught and the nursing home where she died.

And in 2011 a 91-year-old woman from Seattle left a fortune of $3 million to charity. During her lifetime she had been known to wear old and worn clothes - and refuse to throw broken furniture away. However, on her death she was revealed to be a secret philanthropic millionaire. Her donations included half a million dollars to a Seattle hospice - the biggest donation it had ever received.

But what do you think? Could you do the same? Or would you be too tempted to spend the money yourself?

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