It WAS a request that no self-respecting billionaire could possibly refuse. And now a charity group in Oban is in the money after a six-year-old boy persuaded Ineos owner Jim Ratcliffe to donate £1,000 towards building a new community playpark.
When Jim Ratcliffe sailed into town, on his £130 million superyacht, the Friends of Oban Playpark dispatched Ruari Cottier to hand-deliver a begging letter to the oil company boss.
But as the weeks went by without a reply, the group thought that their appeal for a donation towards building a new playpark had fallen on deaf ears.
Then it emerged that although staff on the yacht had taken the letter from Ruari, after he sailed out to them on a dinghy, under the watchful eye of his mother, Liz, it had not been passed on to the oil tycoon.
And once Mr Ratcliffe eventually heard about Ruari’s efforts he decided to reward him.
Ms Liz Cottier, who is vice-chair of the Friends of Oban Community Playpark, said yesterday: “We have just received a cheque for £1,000 from Mr Ratcliffe, this is fantastic news. Ruari is going to write him a thank you note.”
A spokesman for the oil billionaire said: “Jim Ratcliffe was very impressed to hear about Ruari Cottier’s ingenious efforts to deliver his letter.”
Oban’s main playpark at the Atlantis Leisure Centre was closed in February after being condemned as unsafe.
Group chair, Lyndsay Elliott, 42, said the friends group is trying to raise £400,000 for a new playpark.
Describing the group’s approach to Mr Ratcliffe, she said: “Everybody saw this posh yacht, and saw him on his private jet at Oban airport, so Liz, our vice-chairman, went out to the yacht with her son, with a letter saying please donate some money to our cause.
“We are absolutely delighted with this donation because any money we get goes towards our goal.”
She added: “We have now got [racing driver] Susie Wolff as our patron. As a role model for both girls and boys, I can’t think of someone better because she is very hard working, she is at the top of a very difficult field and she started locally go-kart racing when she was eight, and with a very supportive family she just got better and better.”
Mr Ratcliffe’s yacht, the Hampshire 11, was a crowd-pulling attraction when it anchored in Oban for a fortnight in May.
Hampshire 11 was built in 2012 especially for the oil billionaire. One of the top boats of its class, the 79-metre vessel features a mahogany panelled interior. More adventurous guests can zip-wire from the crow’s nest straight to the sea.