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Among those who gave their fulsome backing to the publisher of Express newspapers and OK! Magazine was Israeli Ambassador Zvi Heifetz who described him as ‘a man of sincere generosity with a keen desire to help those in need.’
Mr Desmond’s offices at Northern and Shell have been flooded with calls of support from well-wishers from all parts of the community, after the newspaper questioned the values that Norwood’s trustees would be seen to endorse given some of his financial interests, on his appointment to the role.
However, writing exclusively in this week’s Jewish News, Norwood’s Chairman Michael Teacher said: “Richard has an impeccable track record, supporting disadvantaged children and has shown an impressive commitment to these causes.
He also spoke of “his willingness to lead by example” and “his dynamism and enthusiasm”
Echoing Teacher’s comments, the heads of other charities were also quick to endorse Desmond’s appointment. Cyril Paskin, Life President and Chairman of the Philip Green Memorial Trust, which provides for the needs of Jewish and non-Jewish disabled children, condemned the attack on Desmond.
He said: “It’s diabolical. Richard is a very, very good man. He is a giving person in every respect – not just money, but his time too. He has a heart of gold. He should be a Sir. We don’t need other Jews running him down.”
Former Dixons boss and co-founder of Immanuel College, Lord Kalms said: “Richard Desmond is a major supporter and activist in the Jewish community. He has earned and deserves our respect and I give it to him without equivocation”.
Friends of Desmond also noted that he had donated over £10m to charities last year – including half to Jewish organisations and that he received support from the Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks.
Lord Levy, the Chairman of Jewish Care, meanwhile, told TJ that he believed Norwood’s choice was beyond reproach. He said: “The decision to appoint Richard Desmond as President was made by the Trustees. They have obviously worked closely with Richard over a number of years and have seen his total commitment in every sense, including financial, to their organisation.
“It is their decision and I believe that the leadership of Anglo-Jewry should be supportive of their decision and stand by Richard Desmond in wishing him great success in his new position.
Heron International Chief Executive and Chairman of the Community Security Trust Gerald Ronson said: “I speak as a friend and supporter of Richard. Every time I’ve ever asked him for anything he’s always given. He’s a talented and hardworking man who devotes most of his free time to charity. He gives equally to Jewish and non-Jewish causes. He’s a good person – and so is his wife Janet who’s a wonderful influence on him. I have no doubt that, with all his charity work, it won’t be very long before he sets up his own charitable foundation and becomes the biggest giver in the UK.”
Stanley Fink, head of the Man Group, echoed Ronson’s sentiments. He said: “Richard supported the Evelina Children’s Hospital with a very generous personal contribution. But then he did much more than that and organised an appeal which raised £2m. He then got us to give 10 percent of the money raised to camp Simcha. I judge a man by his deeds and in my book Richard’s a star – he’s a real mensch.”Leaders Rally Round Desmond by TJ Reporter