J D Collister Bequest to the Manx Nation

– Posted on Thursday 19th April 2012

Manx National Heritage (Manx Museum and National Trust) is seeking views on the use of a generous bequest from John Donald Collister, a former Colby resident, who left an estate valued in the region of £1million to the Manx nation.

A proud Manxman, Mr Collister died at the age of 93 in 2007.  By trade he was a master painter who served in WWII with the Manx Regiment in Crete and North Africa and then returned to his trade in civilian life. He was a keen grower of fruit and vegetables, an active supporter of Laa Columb Killey and well-respected in the everyday life of the community within which he lived.  He was very proud of his military heritage and the wider heritage of the Isle of Man.

Edmund Southworth, Director of Manx National Heritage said:

“Much of the work of MNH is only possible because of the generosity of the Manx people.  Mr Collister’s bequest is the largest gift ever received by Manx National Heritage and we are honoured to receive it. His gift has come at a critical time and has the potential to make an enormous difference to heritage on the Isle of Man”.

Manx National Heritage was first made aware that it had been mentioned as a beneficiary in July 2011 when the Administrator issued a claim in the High Court seeking the assistance of the Court in the interpretation of the will. This was considered by the High Court in January 2012 which concluded that many of the clauses within the Will could not be achieved; therefore the residual estate was left to the Manx Museum and National Trust, in accordance with Mr Collister’s wishes.

At the time of the court hearing, Manx National Heritage offered to consult widely as to how the bequest should be utilized in order to attempt as far as possible to respect Mr Collister’s wishes.

Manx National Heritage have now seen the personal possessions of the estate  which mainly consist of medals, coins, badges, ceramics, first day stamp covers and paperwork.  Some parts of this collection have enormous personal significance in terms of documenting Mr Collister’s life, in particular that part of his life in which he served in the army, and his involvement with the old comrades association.  The fact that he served with the Manx Regiment, the Island’s national formation, gives this added significance in the wider context of Manx history. Indeed this is one of the most complete sets of documentation we have seen relating to an individual who served in this regiment, comprising medals, photographs, documents and three dimensional souvenirs.

Edmund Southworth continued:

“Manx National Heritage is keen to capture stories of Mr. Collister’s life and work with the wider community to present his story in the most relevant manner, whilst also ensuring his gift is utilised in a way in which acknowledges his wishes and interests. With regard to the rest of Mr Collister’s estate, a house and plot of land in Colby and liquid assets, the Manx Museum and National Trust are now seeking views to the manner in which the gift from the late Mr John Donald Collister could be used”.

Comment is being sought from individuals, groups or organisations on options, projects and activities falling within the remit of the Manx Museum and National Trust which may be partly or wholly funded by this generous bequest.  Suggestions must focus on the Isle of Man’s heritage and must specifically benefit the people of and/or visitors to the Isle of Man. Manx National Heritage welcome views on the timescale for this activity and where it might have the most impact.

Copies of the consultation document can be found on  Completed consultation response forms must be returned to Lynsey Radcliffe, Communications Manager, Manx National Heritage, Manx Museum, Kingswood Grove, Douglas, Isle of Man IM1 3LY or by email to by noon on Friday 29th June 2012.

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