Billionaire bet365 boss Denise Coates gifts £1.2m to New Vic Theatre

Billionaire bet365 boss Denise Coates has donated nearly £1.2m to New Vic Theatre. The Denise Coates Foundation has handed over a £1,161,376 grant to allow the theatre to carry out major improvements to the building in Basford which is just down the road from bet365's Etruria HQ.

The money will pay to refurbish the backstage area including installing shower and bathroom facilities in the actor dressing rooms and creating a larger accessible dressing room with wet room. Public toilets for young people taking part in theatre workshops and attending shows in the Studio will also be upgraded.

It will be the first significant upgrade to facilities in this area since the theatre was built in 1986. Other improvements will include upgrading the lighting and sound technology.

READ: The Coates family's remarkable financial legacy as £120m donated last year The Royal Stoke, Dougie Mac and students of all ages are among those who have benefited over the years

The donation will also go towards the theatre’s fundraising for environmental improvements. Once fundraising for this project is complete it will include the installation of smart heating and ‘ventilation on demand’ control systems as well as the fitting of solar energy panels and replacement of existing boilers and single glazed windows to improve the building's energy efficiency. The theatre also hopes to install electric vehicle charging points on the site.

Fiona Wallace, managing mirector at the New Vic, said: “We know that the Denise Coates Foundation are a major supporter of charities for our area and we are extremely grateful that the Foundation’s support for the New Vic will help look after this wonderful theatre building, now and for future generations.

"The New Vic is at the centre of our local community, not only as a working, producing theatre with permanent on-staff artists and theatre-makers, but also as a hub for projects with our local communities and young people. Over 180,000 people come through our doors every year.

"Our building has a special role to play in the architectural heritage of theatre development as one of very few purpose-built theatres-in-the-round and was the first theatre-in-the-round to be built in Europe. Over the years we have prioritised our investment on public areas that our audiences see and benefit from but environmental and backstage improvements are long overdue and will be very warmly welcomed by actors, artists, participants and theatre-goers.”

The UK's richest womanMs Coates - whose salary rose to more than £220m last year - said: “I am delighted that the Foundation is able to support this latest round of capital investment. It will enable the Theatre to implement a modernisation programme that will result in much needed improvements to back stage areas and very importantly, New Vic will have the resources to deliver its environmental improvement plans which will significantly reduce its carbon footprint.”

Ms Coates - the UK's youngest female billionaire - built her fortune as a pioneer of online gambling in the early 2000s, building her father Peter Coates' business empire. She paid just £2,000 for her company's domain name, and now owns around half of her family's company. At the age of 56, she is worth an estimated £6.2bn.

Famously shunning publicity, Ms Coates lives with her husband, Richard, vice-chairman at Stoke City who runs the property side of the business, in a farmhouse in Cheshire.

The Denise Coates Foundation - set up in 2012 - gave away £120.4 million to health and welfare, education and arts charities last year. This ranks them as 23rd in the overall UK 'giving list' having donated 1.6 per cent of their wealth.

Among the causes to benefit included the Royal Stoke University Hospital which received £3.6m for a new cancer centre, Newcastle-under-Lyme School which will see a new £3m sports complex built and the Douglas Macmillan Hospice which was handed £950,000 for a refurbishment of the in-patient unit.

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