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Brian and Margaret Roper given freedom of the city

A couple responsible for giving more than £6 million to charity have been given the Freedom of Bath.

Retired businessman Brian Roper and his wife Margaret were given the honour earlier this week.

The founder of bathroom firm Roper Rhodes has been a knight in shining armour for countless good causes in the city over the years.

Since the Locksbrook Road firm moved to Bath in 1985, it has given three per cent of its profits to charity each year.

The ceremony was brought forward from its traditional slot at the annual mayor-making event in June because Mr Roper is suffering from incurable cancer.

In the last four years alone Mr Roper has paid for laptops at Newbridge Primary School, free sports sessions at the University of Bath, the refurbishment of the swimming pool at St Martin’s Garden Primary School, a recording studio at Hayesfield School (called the Roper Theatre), and free spaces at the Curtain’s Up theatre school.

He has also been a generous supporter of the Royal United Hospital, donating £625,000 in total to The Forever Friends Appeal.

His trust has also supported the arts sector, with one of its most recent donations helping the Zenith Theatre Company to celebrate its 50th anniversary by raising £50,000, and has provided long-term backing to events such as the Bath International Music Festival.

Money has also gone to charities such as Newton St Loe-based Send a Cow, and WaterAid.

In 2012 Business Secretary Vince Cable officially opened a new £5 million three-storey building at City of Bath College named after Mr Roper.

Last year, Mr Roper was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Chronicle’s Bath Business Awards.

At that time, he said: “We do what we do because I believe that businesses should contribute to their communities. It’s not enough for them just to pay their taxes. Businesses are individual wealth centres and they should take some of the load off the state and local authorities.”

He said his family trust, which also involves the couple’s two sons, would go on after his death.

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