Suggestions on how to spend £1m left by Donny Collister

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FROM a statue of Manxman Donny Collister in Colby to twinning the village with a town in Crete where he served in the Second World War, there were a number of suggestions to how Manx National Heritage should use his bequest.

MNH held a public consultation earlier this year to find out how residents thought the bequest – an estate in the region of £1m should be used.

It was left by Colby resident John Donald Collister, who died in 2007 at the age of 93.

His personal wartime memorabilia consists of medals, photographs, documents and souvenirs. It is one of the most complete sets of documentation MNH has seen relating to someone who served in the Manx Regiment.

The majority of the 112 respondents were supportive of Mr Collister’s wartime memorabilia going on public display. Almost half (46.46 per cent) of those who cited a place, said it should be displayed at the Manx Aviation and Military Museum, in Ballasalla.

Some 27.27 per cent of respondents said it should be displayed by MNH.

Other suggestions included a mobile display, an online virtual museum, and the British Legion Hall in Colby.

His bequest also included liquid assets of about £635,000, and a plot of land including a large dormer bungalow in Colby.

A wide variety of criteria was suggested to be used to evaluate the benefit of options, projects and partnerships funded.

In MNH’s response, it said: ‘Overall a strong sense of community benefit, both on a national and local scale, being sustainable, protecting heritage and attracting new visitors and income were the most common themes cited.’

Some 26.26 per cent of people thought the bequest should be used for the benefit of people in Arbory/Colby, 21.21 per cent south, 21.21 per cent in the local community, 26.26 per cent nationally, and 6.6 per cent for all people, including visitors.

There was a mixed response to how projects or activities funded by the bequest should be delivered.

A heritage grant framework administered by MNH was frequently suggested as the mechanism for expenditure from the fund, including a partnership approach where projects can be delivered by others.

In total, 44 per cent of respondents said it should be used over three to seven years, 29.5 per cent over one to three years, and 26.5 per cent within the next 12 months.

Mr Collister was a master painter who served in the Second World War with the Manx Regiment in Crete and North Africa. He was an active supporter of Laa Columb Killey.

His will stated he wished for the proceeds from his estate to be used to build a heritage centre or museum in his house or on a field he owned in Colby. Alternatively, MNH was named as a beneficiary.

In January the High Court concluded many of the clauses within the will could not be achieved, therefore the residual estate was left to MNH.

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