Page last updated at 23:13 GMT, Friday, 5 September 2008 00:13 UK

Why do people give away fortunes?

By Tom Warren
BBC News

Jane Ritchie
Ms Ritchie's 9m inheritance came from her second cousin twice removed.

Former careers adviser Jane Ritchie became an overnight multi-millionaire when a distant relative left her 9m when she died.

But instead of using the money to fund a lavish lifestyle, 5m of it has paid for a new learning centre in the north-east of England, which opened this week.

The Workplace Centre, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, offers diploma courses and is set to help thousands of people improve their prospects of training and employment.

Many people have a wish-list of things they would do and buy if they came into a fortune.

New hat

But there is no new wardrobe of clothes, luxury holidays or overseas properties for the 59-year-old.

In fact Ms Ritchie said the only things she has bought for herself are a new hat for a wedding and a gardening tool to help her grow better rhubarb.

So what is it that drives some people to give their money away?

Ms Ritchie, from Wensleydale, North Yorkshire, regularly visited her second cousin twice removed, Margery Freeman, in the care home where she spent her final years.

When her relative died, aged 100, she did not realise she was going to inherit the bulk of her estate.

"[Margery] asked me if I would look after her two farms and said she would leave me a cottage so I would have somewhere to live when I retired.

You don't need 7.6m, no-one does do they?

Barbara Wragg, lottery winner

"She told me she was going to leave her money to a cats home and we used to joke about all these fat moggies."

But after Ms Freeman's death, her solicitor broke the news to Ms Ritchie that she would inherit 9m.

"I nearly fell off my chair. I've been brought up to not waste things and because most of it was in stocks and shares you feel it could go up in a puff of smoke.

"Wasting it [buying material goods] is not a good idea at all - it's totally wrong."

In her former job as a careers adviser, Ms Ritchie was asked to try to save science and technology centres in her region threatened with closure.

The Work Place Centre
Thousands of young people will benefit from the learning centre

They closed as no funding was available to pay for alternative facilities.

But her inheritance changed all that and meant she could finally achieve her working ambition.

"The instinct when I was told I was getting the inheritance was to say, 'at last, I can build the centre'.

"It was a last piece of unfinished business," she said.

Good causes

Barbara Wragg and her husband Ray won 7.6m on the lottery eight years ago.

They have famously given away about 5.5m of that to family members and charities, including the Sheffield hospital where Barbara worked as a nursing support worker.

Mr Wragg, 70, a former cladding supervisor, and his wife, 67, have also given money to a host of other good causes, including paying for disadvantaged children to see Disney pantomimes.

"You don't need 7.6m, no-one does do they?

"We just feel if the hospitals need something and we can do something for them, we do it. It's just how we are," said Mrs Wragg.

Barbara and Ray Wragg
Barbara and Ray Wragg won 7.6m on the lottery in 2000

"You feel as if you have done something good and other people have benefited from us winning.

"I wouldn't tell [other lottery winners] to do it. It's their money to do with as they want.

"I personally think that money, to some extent, can ruin some people."

A spokesman for Camelot, the company which runs the lottery, said many winners gave some money away.

"It extends onto the charities or the good causes, usually the things that have touched their lives.

"People like Ray and Barbara Wragg have given vast sums of money away and continue to do wonderful things and make a massive difference to their local community.

"But it doesn't necessarily have to be big multimillion-pound things."

Legacy pays for learning centre
01 Sep 08 |  North Yorkshire
Lottery couple's 6m charity gift
12 Dec 06 |  South Yorkshire
The lottery's winners and losers
03 Nov 04 |  Magazine
Lottery couple save veterans' trip
15 Aug 03 |  South Yorkshire

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