Billionaire Sheikh steps in to save tiny village hall in Cornwall due to special connection

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum stepped in to help Godolphin Cross residents buy their local Methodist chapel.Google maps / Reuters

Residents of a tiny Cornish village were celebrating this week after a generous Dubai-based Emir stepped in to help them buy a local chapel and schoolroom from their local church.

The citizens of Godolphin Cross were trying to buy the chapel as it's the only community space in the village and were set a target of £100,000 ($129,260) after it was closed in May 2015.

And whilst brainstorming on who they could ask for donations they decided to ask His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the Vice President, Minister of Defence and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and the Emir of Dubai.

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Al-Maktoum is also the head of the global Godolphin horse racing empire after beginning his love affair with the sport while studying at Cambridge University and attending his first horse race at Newmarket in May 1967.

He then began to buy horses and eventually a 3,800-acre farm in Kentucky and Australia's Ingham stud farm for a reported £356m.

The villagers pointed out the historic link between Godolphin Cross and Francis Godolphin, the second Earl of Godolphin, who in 1724 bred the legendary breed of Arabian horses that the bulk of modern thoroughbreds are descended from.

Now, after receiving the letter in November, the Sheikh has offered the Godolphin Cross Community Association an undisclosed sum, believed to be around £75,000 that will allow them to buy the Methodist chapel.

Richard McKie, the association's chairman, told The Telegraph: "The majority of the £100,000 target we reached came from the Emir. It's a fairy tale really. It's not often a sheikh steps in to help a Cornish village."

The church had announced in 2015 that it was selling off buildings and the community association jumped into action raising around £25,000 though events and donations.

"We can't thank Sheikh Mohammed enough and we'd love to see him in this neck of the woods any time," McKie added. "He would be assured of a very warm welcome.

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"I think this shows that he's interested in the history and values this Cornish link. He has put his money to help a community staring down the barrel of having nowhere to go for community events. We are thinking of using part of the chapel to explain about the link."

The villagers now intend to raise a further £350,000 in order to fully restore and refurbish the building with new kitchen, toilets, youth club facilities, heating and solar panels.

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