Fashion retailer George Davies has gifted a generous £5.15 million to the University of Leicester and Leicester’s Hospitals.
The founder of successful high street brands Next, George at Asda and Per Una for Marks & Spencer hopes to make a difference for patients who have poor circulation in the leg and ultimately prevent them from having an amputation procedure.
The donation – the University’s largest-ever philanthropic gift from an individual – will help towards research into vascular disease and limb amputation and hopes to identify the underlying causes of limb loss. Many of these patients will have type 2 diabetes but some of the general public are not aware of the link to vascular disease and limb loss, especially in younger people.
George Davies said: “Working with charities close to my heart is extremely important to me. In particular, vascular care and diabetes type 2 needs further funding to create wider awareness. We need to educate all ages about the severity of the symptoms if left untreated. Communication is a key factor in the project and with my business expertise and the talent of the medical professionals I will be working with, we hope to improve and bring together the healthcare service.”
The announcement of the donation was made at the opening of a new Vascular Limb Salvage Clinic (VaLS) at Glenfield Hospital, Leicester today where George also took a tour of the facilities and met with academic leaders and clinicians who showcased the world-leading cardiovascular research.
Worldwide, every 30 seconds a limb is amputated due to vascular disease, with a major amputation taking place every two hours in the UK. With thousands of people in the UK affected by vascular disease and poor circulation, George wanted to bring awareness to a cause that could be prevented with efficient research.
The gift will also fund the George Davies Chair of Vascular Surgery to be held by Professor Rob Sayers and support a clinical and research initiative to investigate different ways to improve outcomes for patients.
Professor Sayers, from the University’s Department of Cardiovascular Sciences and Honorary Consultant Vascular and Endovascular Surgeon at Leicester’s Hospitals, said: “This is an enormously generous gift that George Davies has donated and will make a real difference to how our patients are assessed and treated. We will also be able to run a research programme to identify ways to treat people faster and better and thus prevent amputation. Working with George has been fantastic because he likes to get involved in the projects that he supports and bring his own expertise and that of his team to make a real difference.
“Leicester is a centre of excellence for vascular surgery, both clinically and academically, and this translational programme that George Davies is supporting further demonstrates the close collaboration that exists between the University of Leicester and Leicester’s Hospitals.”
Professor Philip Baker, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology at the University of Leicester, said: “We are tremendously excited by this extremely generous gift. Funding will allow Leicester’s world-class researchers and clinicians to develop and deliver new treatments and therapies that will benefit patients suffering from peripheral vascular disease locally and nationally.”