From the ET, 15 November: An Peterborough adventure playground and city farm has been saved from closure thanks to the intervention of a “Secret Millionaire”.
New Ark Adventure Playground, in Reeves Way, is among a number of Peterborough-based charities set to be showcased in “The Secret Millionaire” when it airs on Channel 4 at 9pm on Sunday, following a vital donation of cash.
The show involves millionaire benefactors saying goodbye to their luxury lifestyles and going undercover in deprived areas to find out who needs their help.
For the charity, which also runs a playgroup and a support service for children with behavioural problems, the cash donation from Mike Greene (46), a CEO of a multi-million pound retail consultancy, meant the difference between staying afloat and being dragged under.
Nikki Anderson (43), playgroup manager, said: “We were in financial difficulties to the point where we were on the brink of not being able to pay wages.”
Mrs Anderson said the charity has this year been surviving on the goodwill of its supporters, with an increased reliance on voluntary work, as well as donations of resources by parents.
The donation, the size of which is yet to be revealed, has been used to clear the charity’s debts and help build up the charity’s operation again after it struggled following the withdrawal of some of its grant funding.
Mrs Anderson added: “It saved us, definitely. Things like this do not happen to us.”
Self-made millionaire Mike Greene, who lives on the outskirts of Peterborough, made his fortune advising leading UK companies on people’s shopping habits, as well as through property investments.
Mr Greene’s connections to the city date back to when he moved to Bretton, aged 11, and he was impressed with the work carried out at New Ark.
He said: “It was wonderful - great people who were doing a really necessary job, helping out families who can’t afford traditional child care and without that they couldn’t get to work.”
Staff at the charity were under the impression Mr Green, who was posing as a volunteer, was helping film a documentary about the role of such organisations in the community.
Mrs Anderson described the moment when the truth was revealed and it had learnt it would be receiving a cash donation.
She said: “It was really quite emotional as you will see on Sunday. It was immense. We knew how much it would mean to us. It was amazing, amazing.”
Among the others city charities to benefit was Time Stop, a hostel for homeless young people housed at the YMCA Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, in Wellington Street, Eastgate.
Cash there will go towards providing a training suite for young people.
Chief executive of the YMCA Jonathan Martin said: “We were really happy to take part in the programme. We did not know anything about it until the reveal.”
He added: “It’s a real validation for the people at Time Stop.”
He added: “It makes you think that someone is saying the work we are doing is pretty good.”
Mr Greene is still involved with all the charities he visited as part of the programme. At Time Stop, he is mentoring young people to help them get back into work.
More on Channel 4 website: Channel 4 - The Secret Millionaire: Mike Greene returns to Peterborough, broadcast 20 November 2011