Northern Ireland

Happy ending for Browne-Lecky charities in Londonderry

Two charities that claimed Derry City Council owed them thousands of pounds in unpaid ground rent have received their money.

The rents had been left to them in the will of a flamboyant county Tyrone man - Raymond Saville Conolly de Montmorency Lecky-Browne-Lecky - 50 years ago.

Although the charities had received the payment of around £600 for some time, the money stopped more than 10 years ago.

Robert Ashby from the Actors' Charitable Trust said both charities had tried to pursue it but had given up.

"When I last talked to Richard and Sheila Attenborough - who are in charge of the charity..... they said 'darling you better forget it - you won't get anything'. We all thought that."

The situation changed just before Christmas following a BBC report. The council and the charities got talking.

Sharon O'Connor - the chief executive of Derry City Council - said all the money they were due has now been paid.

"We hadn't been invoiced for almost a decade - so we had no idea at all that anyone was owed anything so when the BBC ran this story I asked people to have a look.

Image caption Robert Ashby from the Actors' Charitable Trust said that the money will help performers who are having financial trouble

"We had to research our files and to liaise with the legal team acting on behalf of the charities."

The two charities have received £6,840 between them.

Mr Ashby from the Actors' Charitable Trust said this means they will be able to help an actress whose husband has just died. She has three small children and is not working at the moment.

Sue Dalton from the Musicians' Benevolent Fund said the money could not have come at a better time because in the last year they have had 80% more people apply to them in crisis.

"This is professional musicians who are ill or who have experienced an accident. This cheque actually means that we can help four musicians through a very difficult time in their career."

And the two charities will now continue to receive almost £600 every year from the council as part of Browne-Lecky's legacy.

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