When, when you…Have you ever just spent charity money on a dragon?

For once, an extremely bizarre mishandling of charity donations did not occur in the US and instead happened in the UK. Yes, that’s right, not all unsightly allocations of donated funds happen in a single country. Cancer charity boss Simon Wingett’s foundation was supposed to be helping buy equipment and resources for cancer patients in Wrexham (in Wales in the UK), but instead he invested 410,000 euros (roughly $400K USD) in the charity’s earnings in a project unrelated to cancer. You guessed correctly that money was used for a project, more specifically to build a 210ft Welsh dragon. Before we dive too far into that, let’s start with the charity. It was not started by Simon Wingett, but his father Frank Wingett. Frank Wingett started the Frank Wingett Cancer Relief charity following his diagnosis of throat cancer in the 1980s. Throat cancer is not something particularly common with less than 190,000 people being diagnosed with it worldwide in 2020. Who is at risk? Heavy drinkers and heavy smokers, mostly. Other risk factors include exposure to human papillomavirus (HPV) and the virus that causes mono. Currently, people over the age of 55 are at higher risk of developing throat cancer, and men are more likely to get throat cancer than women (but that’s likely due to behavioral factors, ie: men are more likely to drink and smoke than women). Current treatments include but are not limited to surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Remember, medical technology was not as advanced in the 1980s as it is now, so the treatments were much more limited and survival rates were smaller than they are today. The charity appears to have had regular activity through the early 2000s up until its last payment in 2011 to the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board for 4,500 euros. Of course, that was suspicious and in 2017 the Charity Commision started an investigation which ended with Wingett getting banned from acting as a trustee of any charity for 10 years. He has been ordered to pay more than 117,000 euros to local charities supporting the relief of cancer patients treated in Wrexham. So, at the end of this saga, some of the money will go to helping local cancer patients. Was the dragon ever built? Unfortunately, no. It truly does not pay to mismanage funds, and that is something Wingett is now finding out the hard way in his lost investment and money to be paid to charities (that honestly, should have gone to them in the first place). At this time, it is unclear as to whether or not there will be legal action other than paying local charities, but we will be keeping an eye on this story and share updates as we get them.

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