The Charity Commission has urgently requested information from a Welsh cancer charity over reports that it has spent no money on cancer, but hundreds of thousands on plans for a giant statue of a dragon.
An investigation by the Daily Post - a local newspaper in Wales - has claimed that that the Frank Wingett Cancer Relief Fund has not given any money towards its cause in seven years, while investing in a “multi-million pound” sculpture of a dragon, which it expects will raise money in the future.
The charity has not filed its annual report and accounts with the Charity Commission for over three years and its latest available accounts are for the financial year ending 30 June 2014. The regulator has confirmed that it has opened an operational compliance case.
According to the Post the charity has invested more than £400,000 over the last decade in a “project to create a huge Welsh dragon statue tourist attraction”.
It said a shop run by the charity to raise funds was closed earlier this year. The paper reports that volunteers were unaware that no money had been spent on helping people with cancer over the last few years.
The charity’s accounts show that in 2012 Wingett and his wife received consultancy fees of £2,500 in relation to the project.
The charity has just one trustee, Simon Wingett, who is the son of its founder. He told the Post that the payment to himself and his wife were for “the huge amount of time and resources that went into delivering the planning and the project”.
He added: “The Dragon project is now in the final rounds of securing the funding via a mixture of private and business equity,financial institutions, crowdfunding and sale of plaques.
“The project will deliver to the FWCRF a £1.5m-plus asset which will in perpetuity raise significant sums of monies for cancer-related charities.”
A Commission spokeswoman said: “The Commission has a regulatory compliance case open to look into serious concerns about the management and administration of the Frank Wingett Cancer Relief Fund. We are reviewing information provided by the trustee, and have requested further information as a matter of urgency, in order to assess compliance with their legal duties towards the charity.”
Still appealing for funds
The campaign’s website said it is still looking for funding and lists an number of corporate partners who have supported it so far, as well as cancer charities expected to benefit from the landmark.
Plans were initially unveiled for the sculpture in 2010 and according to local media reports the project needed between £6m and £9m to build the 136ft tower and 75ft dragon sculpture. It had initially hoped to complete the project by 2012.
It estimated that the dragon would attract 200,000 visitors a year, create 45 jobs, inject £10.75m into the local economy and raise £1m for charity every year.
A news item on WalesOnline, dated 3 May 2018, said the project is “getting closer to reality” with a jewellery brand, Clogau Gold, announcing that it would open a shop at the site.
Simon Wingett told WalesOnline then that: “I hope to see the 40ft tower open next year. I don’t see why it wouldn’t be, it’s being imported from Europe and it’s basically flatpack.”
It also reported that Wingett is planning to sell 5,000 personalised slate plaques to form part of the tower.