MEMORIES of a childhood in Ilkeston brought tears to the eyes of a Secret Millionaire last week.
Chek Whyte, 42, starred as the undercover millionaire in Channel 4’s documentary, spending ten days in Salford volunteering in a homeless shelter and rundown youth club.
Now one of Britain’s richest men, Chek grew up in Ilkeston but spent time in foster care before his time as a labourer led to property development and made him a multi-million pound fortune. He now spends a lot of time on his yacht in France.
Looking ahead to a penniless ten days, he said: “As a child, we were a real hardworking family.
“I want to do it because of my background. I want to give something back because I know how hard it was.”
Using his birth name, Anthony, Chek was given 10 and the story that he was filming a documentary about finding work in the old industrial city.
He lived in a house in Forgotten Triangle, an estate at the heart of a regeneration project whose residents had been living in condemned housing and fighting demolition for years.
Chek volunteered at the Loaves and Fishes homeless centre which feeds 30 to 40 people during its three days from a cramped kitchen and at the Salford Lads Club which is run by volunteers.
Fighting back tears as he heard their stories, Chek said: “Coming here is getting close to the heart of my past.
“It’s harder than I thought it would ever be. There’s so much, I can’t do it all. I can’t help everybody.”
After a sleepless last night Chek revealed his true background and promised the homeless shelter 15,000 worth of work to extend the kitchen and build a garden in which they could grow their own produce.
He gave a cheque for the same amount to the Salford Lads Club which is run by local people but was in need of new roofing.
And, to help his neighbours of ten days, he offered 20,000 worth of professional help to secure their homes. He also paid for central heating, new windows and a bedrooms makeover for one family he made friends with.
CHEK WHYTE: The Ilkeston millionaire gave away thousands of pounds of his own money taking part in a television show.