Manx National Heritage asks public how to use John Donald Collister's £1 million bequest

By Culture24 Reporter | 03 May 2012
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A photo of a war veteran in a lush green garden
John Donald Collister was a keen gardener and fruit and vegetable grower at his Isle of Man home of Colby
© Manx National Heritage
Heritage chiefs on the Isle of Man are asking the public to decide how a £1 million estate, left to the nation in an unprecedented bequest by a popular World War II veteran, should be used.

Described as a “proud Manxman”, John Donald Collister was a master painter and fervent supporter of local life who served with the island’s Regiment in Crete and North Africa. He died in 2007 at the age of 93.

“Mr Collister’s bequest is the largest gift ever received by Manx National Heritage, and we are honoured to receive it,” said Edmund Southworth, the organisation’s Director.

“Much of our work is only possible because of the generosity of the Manx people. His gift has come at a critical time and has the potential to make an enormous difference to heritage on the Isle of Man.”

A High Court case in January 2012, aimed at interpreting Collister’s will, gave the residual estate to the Manx Museum and National Trust after it was concluded that many of its clauses were unachievable.

During the hearing, the heritage body offered to “consult widely” on the future of the assets, house and plot of land, in line with the vision of their former supporter.

Personal possessions from the estate include medals, coins, badges, ceramics, first day stamp covers and paperwork. Experts say it is “one of the most complete sets of documentation” ever seen on the island, offering “enormous personal significance”.

“We are keen to capture stories of Mr Collister’s life and work with the wider community to present his story,” added Southworth.

“We also want to ensure his gift is utilised in a way which acknowledges his wishes and interests.”

Individuals and groups are being encouraged to suggest “options, projects and activities” which will “specifically benefit” residents and visitors and fall “within the remit” of the museum and Trust.

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