Jimi Heselden founder and owner of Hesco Bastion established the ‘Jimbo’s Fund’ with Leeds Community Foundation in 2008 with an initial donation of £10 million. He added an additional £3 million to the Fund in 2009 and gifted a further £10 million in September 2010. Jimi’s total contribution of an amazing £23 million makes him one of the UK’s most generous philanthropists. Unfortunately he tragically died in October 2010, but his legacy lives on in the Fund that continues to support the people of his home city. Eight year’s following its creation ‘Jimbo’s Fund’ has distributed over £13 million in grants, much of which has benefited East Leeds particularly those local schemes which look to improve the lives of children, young people and the elderly.
Jimi sought no glory or recognition for his charitable work, with his personal philanthropy focused on people, rather than places and giving people a hand-up rather than hand-outs. He was once asked what it was like to be such a great philanthropist. His answer was: “I am not even sure what one of those is, but the reason I help is because I just want to help people who need it most. I believe that businesses that do well should give something back to the community”.
The Foundation has been working with Jimi’s family since 2008 and have been searching for a suitable legacy project to provide longer-term recognition for his incredible contribution. In recent months this has come to fruition through a £1.25m grant to Leeds Mencap for their new centre (www.leedsmencap.org.uk) where the children’s nursery is to be called Jimbo’s Community Nursery, and through the agreement to purchase and convert the former fire station at Gipton into a community and enterprise hub for the area.