A sport-mad business entrepreneur whose charitable work has helped more than 6,000 children has gone global with his latest venture.
Self-made millionaire Barrie Wells – who once owned former Lancaster insurance businesses Prospero and Premierline – set up the Barrie Wells Trust in 2009 to help sick and terminally ill youngsters.
The trust, run from Dalton Square’s CityLab building, has since helped around 6,000 children to enjoy a VIP experience at sporting and entertainment events across the UK.
“I decided to reverse the whole thing and give away the money I had made,” said Barrie, who is originally from Liverpool but lives in Bolton-le-Sands.
“I have probably spent about £2.5 to £3m since the charity first started in 2009.”
Barrie established the charity in order to see his wealth enrich the lives of others – particularly children – and is the sole funder of the charity.
In 2012 he funded 18 of Britain’s best athletes in the lead up to the London Olympic Games, including Jessica Ennis, Beth Tweddle, Dai Greene, Holly Bleasdale and Katarina Johnson-Thompson.
In return, he asked the athletes to give up their time to inspire schoolchildren to take up sport under the Wells Sports Foundation’s Athletes 4 Schools scheme.
In total, the campaign benefited more than 35,000 schoolchildren nationwide.
Barrie also launched Box4Kids – a unique opportunity for seriously ill and disabled children and their families to enjoy a VIP day at key sporting events in an executive box.
Barrie created the first Box4Kids at Liverpool FC in 2010 following a chance encounter with Reds legend Kenny Dalglish on a flight back from the World Cup in South Africa.
The scheme has now been rolled out to include 117 boxes across 12 sports, including numerous Premier League football clubs and Rugby League and Union grounds across the country, as well as Club Wembley.
It also now extends to other entertainment and sports at the O2, Royal Opera House, Royal Albert Hall, Wimbledon and Lord’s Cricket Ground.
To date, Box4Kids has worked with 70 hospitals nationwide, enabling around 6,000 seriously ill children to attend an event in a corporate box, as well as encouraging many corporate companies to offer their boxes free of charge to Box4Kids.
Barrie’s latest venture took him to Singapore last month, where 50 youngsters from a local hospital enjoyed a day at the Singapore Air Show.
He now hopes the success of this trip will help him spread his charitable work around the world.
“We are thrilled to be able to expand Box4Kids internationally and offer deserving children in Singapore the opportunity to have such an amazing day out,” he said.
“It’s always humbling to see the impact of these VIP experiences, and Singapore is no exception.
“We are now so successful in the UK that I want to take it further afield. “People in America have been in touch about doing something similar there.”