Cromer Hospital: Farmer Douglas de Bootman leaves £1m in will

Douglas de Bootman Image copyright Karen Ballard
Image caption Douglas de Bootman farmed land at both Thursford and Pentney in Norfolk

A farmer who "liked the quiet life" has left more than £1 million to his local hospital to help people with cancer.

Douglas de Bootman, who lived in Thursford in Norfolk before his death at the age of 88 last year, made the bequest to Cromer Hospital.

His niece and executor of his will said Mr de Bootman told her days before he died she would have a "big job to sort out and he was right".

Cromer Hospital said it was one of the biggest donations it had ever received.

Mr de Bootman had farmed at Pentney, near Swaffham, and his wife Janet had died in 2010.

Image copyright Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals Trust
Image caption Mr de Bootman's £1m bequest will help fund a new cancer centre at Cromer Hospital on the north Norfolk coast

"His wife had a few appointments there... but apart from that he just loved Norfolk and Cromer Hospital," said his sister-in-law Patricia de Bootman.

"He farmed from the age of leaving school until he retired. That was his life… he didn't go far, he just loved the land."

Her daughter Karen Ballard, who carried out her uncle's instructions after he died of a short illness, only discovered a week before his death that he wanted to leave most of his estate to the hospital.

"We never spoke about things like that before because we are a quite a private family," she said.

"He had a few friends, very minimal - he didn't go out much, hardly at all. He just liked the quiet life.

"[The hospital] decided as they are trying to build this new cancer unit that's where they will spend the money.

"It will help thousands of people and we're happy with that."

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Louise Cook, head of fundraising for the Norfolk and Norwich Hospitals Charity, said: "Mr de Bootman's legacy will undoubtedly help improve the facilities and services at the hospital and will be felt by patients, staff and visitors for many years."

In 2012, Cromer Hospital was rebuilt following a £12m legacy from local woman Sagel Bernstein and £1.4m from patient Phyllis Cox.

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