Tyne & Wear

Newcastle University's £1m legacy for blind research

A North East businessman who became blind has left £1.1m to Newcastle University's Medical School.

The donation from William Norman Randerson, the former owner of timber mill, Smith and Gillander, will support medical research into the condition.

Mr Randerson left more than £1.1m to Newcastle University Development Trust when he passed away in 2007.

The endowment sees the establishment of The Randerson Foundation to support awards for students and researchers.

Some of the money, which has only been released recently to the university due to legal and administration reasons, will be set aside each year for research.

The rest will be used to support other research in the faculty in areas including ageing and chronic disease, neuroscience, cancer, genetics, developing new antibiotics and public health.

'Lasting legacy'

Mr Randerson developed diabetes early in life, which caused him to go blind.

As a result he developed an interest with medical research and in particular developments in the treatment of blindness.

A member of the family, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "Both Mr and Mrs Randerson had a very real sense of what was right and wrong and they felt committed to making a difference and to leave a lasting legacy which would benefit a great number of people.

"They were always impressed with the work that was going on in the medical faculty at Newcastle University and it is still doing great things, and they would be proud to be a part of it."

'Greatly indebted'

Professor Chris Day, Pro Vice-Chancellor of medical sciences, said they were "greatly indebted" to the Randersons.

He said: "This sort of benefaction makes a huge difference to our ability to take forward our ground breaking work and life saving research in the future."

Mr Randerson's South Shields company was responsible for supplying timber products for construction companies in the North East.

He lived in Rothbury, Northumberland, with his wife, Bessie, who passed away in 2008.

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