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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 November 2005, 10:00 GMT
US benefactor leaves school 250K
Picture of Maerdy Junior School assembly
Headteacher Peter Blake breaks the news in school assembly
A junior school in a former mining area of south Wales has been left more than 250,000 in a bequest from a millionaire American benefactor.

Maerdy Junior School, in Rhondda, was left the money by Morris Gibby, who attended the school in the mid 1920s.

The Maerdy miner's son emigrated to America where he became a District Attorney in Ohio and retired at 46.

Headteacher Peter Blake said it was an "unexpected gift" adding that the money would be used to fund trips abroad.

Mr Blake said the money would be invested and the annual interest, expected to be around 13,000, used to pay for educational trips for pupils in their final year at the school.

Our intention is that this bequest will live forever - his bequest will benefit the entire population of the village as they go through Maerdy Junior School
Headteacher Peter Blake

Mr Blake said the first he knew of the bequest was a letter waiting for him when he arrived back from the summer holiday.

He said: "I thought it could be a scam appeal from a charity."

But further investigation - and calls to the attorney's office in Florida, to where Mr Gibby retired - proved that it was not a hoax.

'Broaden horizons'

Then he remembered a phone call on a similar subject six years earlier. The call was from the attorney's office in Florida informing him that a bequest had been made.

It has emerged that Mr Gibby died six years ago, aged 77, and the bequest to Maerdy Junior School was in his will. Mr Gibby's wife, Beatrice, died this year, and their donation went ahead.

Peter Blake
Mr Blake said the money would benefit generations of pupils

Mr Blake said: "Our intention is that this bequest will live forever. We don't intend spending it on redecoration or new furniture, but providing an experience that will broaden the horizons of children.

"Maerdy is a socially deprived area. We have lots of families who take their children on cultural visits, but this bequest will benefit the entire population of the village as they go through Maerdy Junior School.

"Mr Gibby is the perfect example of someone leaving the valley as a miner's son and making his way through the world and leaving an imprint behind him."

Mr Blake said the school had been unable to trace any immediate family members of Mr Gibby.

Embassy service

The school has put out an appeal for anyone who was at school with him in the 1920s to come forward with information about him.

He said their research had shown that Mr Gibby's family emigrated to Ohio where his father continued working as miner.

Morris Gibby went to university before becoming a prosecuting attorney in Ohio, where he was also a deacon of his Presbyterian church. He became a millionaire by the age of 41 and retired at 46.

In January 1998, the Sun-Sentinel newspaper in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, published an obituary on Mr Gibby, describing him a retired attorney and World War Two veteran who served in the American Embassy in Britain, Portugal and Italy.

He was buried in Cadiz, the Ohio town where his family moved to after leaving Wales.

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