Details have been released of a will that saw a Sudbury man bequeath nearly £3million to a number of local groups and charities.
Former deputy headmaster Tony Wheeler died in June 2012 at the age of 84 after losing his battle with cancer.
The keen local historian left money to 16 different local and national charities, including around £220,000 to the United Reformed Church in the town, where his family were life-long members of the congregation.
Mr Wheeler never married and had no children, and it is believed he amassed his fortune through inheritance, as well his well-paid job as a deputy headmaster at Royal Worcester Grammar School, where he spent many years in a live-in role before retiring in 1987.
Money also came from the sale of Mr Wheeler’s house in Belle Vue Road, Sudbury, which sold for nearly £500,000.
Chris Proffitt, secretary of the United Reformed Church, spoke of his shock at the amount left by Mr Wheeler.
“We thought he might leave us something but we had no indication he was worth millions,” said Mr Proffitt.
He described Mr Wheeler as an “incredible man” and a “frugal gentleman”.
As well as investing some of the funds to secure its long-term future, the church has used the windfall to renovate the community hall, providing toilets and new chairs.
“It is much more comfortable now,” said Mr Proffitt. “I’m confident it is the best hall in the town.”
Flood lights on the church’s spires have also been repaired, restoring one of Mr Wheeler’s favourite night-time views.
Other beneficiaries include the Sudbury Museum Trust, which Mr Wheeler worked with in the creation of the book entitled What’s In a Name? on local street names and their origins.
The trust received around £100,000, enabling it to go ahead with plans to use a room in the town hall vacated by the tourist information centre.
As well as providing an extension to the museum, the space will be used as an education centre, to invite schools in to learn about the town’s history.
Trust chairman Peter Minter said the trust was also looking at providing storage for the town’s ephemera society.
Other beneficiaries include Gainsborough’s House, the Sudbury Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), St Gregory’s Church, St John’s Methodist Church, St Peter’s, Sudbury Freemen’s Trust, Suffolk Wildlife Trust, The Eden’s Project, The Salvation Army, The Sudbury Society, Trustees of Sudbury Common Land Charity and the United Reformed Church in Long Melford.