Belfast Telegraph

Wrightbus: Church led by Jeff Wright 'grateful' for £15m donation

Hundreds of Wrightbus workers leave the factory in Ballymena on Wednesday
Hundreds of Wrightbus workers leave the factory in Ballymena on Wednesday

A church led by Wrightbus owner Jeff Wright has said it is grateful for the £15m in donations it received from the collapsed company in previous years.

Green Pastures' statement comes after the Ballymena bus manufacturer went into administration with the loss of 1,200 jobs.

A spokesperson said the church was "devastated" by the job losses and understands the "hurt, anger and confusion" felt in the community.

"We understand the hurt, anger and confusion felt by so many, as many within our own congregation have been personally affected by these job losses and we are doing all we can to support them at this time," they said.

"As with any donation we receive as a church, we are incredibly grateful for the support the Wright family have offered us. They, along with many others, chose to be generous when their family business enabled them to do so.

"The leadership, staff and people of Green Pastures Church will continue to love and serve people in our community in and through these challenging times."

The church received the estimated £15m in donations through Cornerstone Group, Wrights Group's parent company, over the last six years.

Jeff Wright, lead pastor of Green Pastures Church
Jeff Wright, lead pastor of Green Pastures Church

On Friday, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that Jeff Wright, the son of Wrightbus founder Sir William Wright, asked a Chinese firm for annual rent of around £1m in a potential sale of the troubled firm, however the deal was not completed.

It would have saved the jobs of 1,200 Wrightbus workers' jobs and the public purse around £13m in redundancy payments.

A separate company Wright family company owns the property used by the now collapsed firm, with the business paying rent to the Wrights.

A spokesperson for the Wright family said: "Last week there were two final bidders in discussions regarding acquisition of Wrights Group. A rental agreement for the sites was reached with one bidder, who then pulled out of the deal on Friday, September 20.

"A second bidder discussed purchasing the sites, but no formal letter of offer was made from that bidder. Any reports to the contrary are completely inaccurate."

The spokesperson also defended the donations to Green Pastures, where some staff a planning to picket on Sunday.

"The family have always placed giving to and supporting Christian work at the centre of what we do and that has included contributions to various church organisations, all of which have been entirely legal and were approved by directors, the bank and Invest NI," they said.

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