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Home » Captain Tom Foundation ‘to Close Down’ As Daughter Fights Spa Demolition

Captain Tom Foundation ‘to Close Down’ As Daughter Fights Spa Demolition

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The Captain Tom Foundation is likely to close down following an investigation into its management, a hearing to decide the fate of an unauthorised spa at his daughter’s home has heard.

The organisation, which was founded in June 2020 in honour of Captain Sir Tom Moore – after he shot to fame by doing sponsored laps of his garden during the COVID pandemic – is currently being investigated by the Charity Commission.

Barrister Scott Stemp, acting on behalf of the late fundraiser’s daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore and her husband Colin, said: “It’s not news to anybody that the foundation, it seems, is to be closed down following an investigation by the Charity Commission.”

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He also told the hearing, at the headquarters of Central Bedfordshire Council, that the foundation was “unlikely to exist” much longer.

The admission was made at an appeal launched by Ms Ingram-Moore and her husband against an order to demolish a building in the grounds of their £1.2m home in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire.

The pair were originally granted permission to build an L-shaped structure in their garden in 2021, with their plans stating the site would be used partly “in connection with The Captain Tom Foundation and its charitable objectives”.

However, last year they submitted a retrospective application for a larger, C-shaped building containing a spa pool.

The new application was rejected by Central Bedfordshire Council, which then served an enforcement notice demanding the “now-unauthorised building” be demolished.

Chartered surveyor James Paynter, a representative for the couple, told the hearing the scheme had “evolved” to include the spa pool.

He said: “It was felt that a larger building could provide this extra space for this extra facility going forward. The spa pool has the opportunity to offer rehabilitation sessions for elderly people in the area.

“They want to offer one-to-one sessions, only on a once or twice per week basis. They felt this extra limb to create a C-shape was needed to create this facility.”

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Image: Hannah Ingram-Moore with husband Colin (left) and son Benjie (right) at Central Bedfordshire Council Mr Paynter said the building would also offer the “opportunity for people to meet on a coffee morning basis – that’s probably not going to be more than once a month, like a church opening up for a coffee morning for Macmillan”.

“There’s going to be the opportunity to open the garden – we’ve heard the garden will open once per year for a fete,” he said.

In a written appeal statement, Mr Ingram-Moore also said the heights of the building that was originally approved and the new structure were “the same”.

The hearing was overseen by planning inspector Diane Fleming, who was appointed by the secretary of state.

Around half a dozen neighbours attended the meeting, with one arguing that the building is “49% bigger than what was consented” and is close to his property, adding: “It’s very brutal.”

During the hearing, Ms Fleming was shown neighbours’ views of the spa block – including from the garden of retired credit manager Jilly Bozdogan.

Afterwards, Ms Bozdogan described the building as a “bit of a monstrosity”.

Richard Proctor, planning enforcement team leader for Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “The original building that was approved was because of public good outweighing harm.”

He added: “There hasn’t been any information provided to the council about the use of the spa.”

Image: A view from the garden of neighbour Jilly Bozdogan, of the unauthorised spa pool block Ms Fleming said she would make a visit to the site, before making a written decision at a later date.

The Charity Commission first launched a probe in March 2021 into the Captain Tom Foundation’s accounts, which showed in its first year £160,000 was given away in charitable grants, while £240,000 was spent on management and fundraising costs.

The watchdog expanded it to a statutory inquiry in June 2022 after becoming concerned about arrangements between the charity and a company linked to the couple.

Sir Tom raised £38.9m for the NHS, including Gift Aid, by walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday at the height of the first national lockdown in April 2020.

He was knighted by the late Queen during a unique open-air ceremony at Windsor Castle in summer 2020. He died in February 2021.