ONE of the richest men in the Midlands is giving pupils at his old school a helping hand by backing a new £10 million arts centre.
Sir Paul Ruddock, who is now worth nearly £300 million, is a key benefactor behind the new performing arts centre at King Edward’s School, in Edgbaston.
The venue will be named the Sir Paul and Lady Ruddock Centre, in honour of the financier, who was knighted for services to the arts in the 2012 New Year Honours.
It will be shared with the neighbouring King Edward VI High School For Girls.
The project is just weeks away from completion, and will be officially opened by Sir Paul and education secretary Michael Gove at the end of this month.
Solihull-born Sir Paul revealed that receiving a scholarship to King Edward’s in 1969 proved to be a turning point in his life. The hedge fund chief, who has also been the chairman of the Victoria And Albert Museum since 2007, said: “My father was a civil servant and my mother was a teacher, and I went to my local junior school.
“I got a scholarship, and the school for me was an inspiration. Not only did it help me to get into university and in my career, but it really opened up my mind to history and the arts.
“King Edward’s has always been one of the great academic schools this country has, and I just wanted to say thank you.”
The new arts centre – which boasts a 400-seater concert hall and room for an 80-piece orchestra, plus a drama studio and dance studio – is part of a £20 million building programme at King Edward’s.
Work is also set start in the summer on a new £5 million sixth-form and modern languages centre.
Half the cash for the new languages centre was donated by an anonymous ex-pupil, in what is believed to be one of the largest single donations made to any UK school.
King Edward VI High School head teacher Sarah Evans said: “We have all these incredibly talented young people and we have had very limited facilities for them in the past. Suddenly, we are moving from that into a state-of- the-art space for them.”