Local boy made good Mike Pitcher has made a significant dent in the amount the Gazette campaign needs by handing over a cheque for £1,000.

He gave the cheque to the fund in aid of Devizes Opportunity Centre on Saturday.

Mr Pitcher, born and raised in Rushall and educated at Devizes Grammar School, became a senior executive in Barclays Bank.

He has published his memoirs, Of Banking and Barley, and is donating some proceeds to three charities – representing his homes in Hong Kong and Guernsey and his spiritual home of Devizes.

He said: “I am supporting Guernsey’s equivalent of the RSPCA and a charity in Hong Kong, Sowers, which supports disadvantaged children on the Chinese mainland.

“I am grateful to the Gazette for making me aware of their campaign in support of Devizes Opportunity Centre.”

Betty Newman, manager of the Opportunity Centre at Belle Vue Road in Devizes, said: “I am grateful to Mr Pitcher for this generous donation. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find funding at just the time that our services are increasingly in demand.

“We don’t just cater for children in the Devizes area, but across most of east Wiltshire and into west Wiltshire as well. Our staff are also asked to look after children with numerous physical conditions and they need to be trained to deal with them.”

Mr Pitcher handed over the money to Mrs Newman during his book signing at the Bear Hotel. He wrote the book for his grandchildren, he said: He added: “I often feel I should have sat down and listened to my grandparents while they were still alive but when you’re young you have other things on your mind.

“So I wanted to put it all down in black and white so my grandchildren can read it when they’re ready. When you die all that information is lost.

“It’s amazing how little you know about people you have known for a long time. I bumped into Oliver Stocken, chairman of the MCC, at Lord’s recently and in the course of talking I told him where I was born and grew up.

“He replied he had been born in Ivy House, the then maternity home in Southbroom Road, Devizes.”

You can donate to the Give us a chance appeal through virginmoneygiving.com at http://tinyurl.com/oarw99t