Million pound donation boosts research at Newcastle University

William Norman Randerson, the former owner of Smith & Gillander, a timber mill in South Shields, left over £1.1million 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 with some money set aside each year for ophthalmological research.

Professor Chris Day, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Medical Sciences at Newcastle University, said: “We are greatly indebted to the Randersons for planning to support the Medical School in this way. 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. The Randerson Foundation will benefit medical students and research teams for years to come and the donation is a fitting tribute to the hard work of staff throughout the Medical School and how their work inspires people all across the North East region.”

William's company was responsible for supplying timber products for construction companies such as William Leech and Barratt’s in the North East. He lived in Rothbury, Northumberland, with his wife, Bessie, who passed away in 2008.

He developed diabetes quite early in life, which caused him to go blind and as a result he developed a fascination with medical research and in particular developments in the treatment of blindness. Part of the donation will be spent on vital research into how stem cells can be used to treat blindness.

William’s nephew, who lives in the Morpeth area, said his uncle and aunt would be proud to be associated with the work of the medical faculty.

The rest of the money is to 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.

Published: 30th June 2010