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Ship ship hooray!

PUBLISHED: 12:29 03 April 2008 | UPDATED: 14:34 25 August 2010

GENEROUS: Sammy Ofer (middle) flanked by National Maritime Museum chairman Lord Sterling and director Kevin Fewster.

GENEROUS: Sammy Ofer (middle) flanked by National Maritime Museum chairman Lord Sterling and director Kevin Fewster.

A SHIPPING tycoon has donated £20 million for a maritime museum to build a new wing.

A SHIPPING tycoon has donated £20 million for a maritime museum to build a new wing.

The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, received the money last Friday from Sammy Ofer, an 86-year-old Israeli who served with the Royal Navy in WWII.

His donation will go towards a £35 million wing with 5000sq-ft of floor space which is home to exhibitions, archives and learning areas.

Lord Sterling, chairman of the National Maritime Museum, said: "We are profoundly indebted to Mr Ofer for making such a farsighted donation of his own personal wealth, and in expressing such confidence in the future of the world's foremost maritime museum."

Mr Ofer owns shipping businesses across the globe and his donation was the largest ever single sum given to a UK cultural project.

The new wing will sit on what is currently a café area at the back of the museum, overlooking Greenwich Park. Building work is expected to start in 2009 and finish in early 2012.

Refurbishment at the Royal Observatory and the opening of its Peter Planetarium, last June, cost just over £16 million.

The museum currently attracts 1.7 million visitors a year with its national treasures including the bloodied jacket Horatio Nelson was shot in during the Battle of Trafalgar. The new wing still only exists on the drawing board but early plans suggested increasing the museum's 6,300sq metres of floor space by 450sq metres.

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

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