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Dubai ruler steps in to buy village chapel in Cornwall

Community stunned by donation to village from where Dubai ruler's racing horses originated
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum at Royal Ascot on 21 June 2017 (Reuters)

A Cornish village struggling to raise money has been surprised by a donation from the prime minister of the UAE, thanks to its links with his race horses.

Godolphin Cross, a community of around 150 homes near Helston, has been raising money to buy its Methodist chapel, which closed in May 2016.

Godolphin Arabian by George Stubbs (copyright free)

Paul Gray, secretary of the Godolphin Cross Community Association, told Middle East Eye: "It’s the sort of thing you dream about."

He added that he was "pleasantly surprised" when the personal secretary to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum contacted them about the donation.

The village is famed for Godolphin Arabian, a highly prized race horse who lived in the mid-18th century and was owned by the second Earl of Godolphin.

His genes have been passed down generations through selective breeding and now form one of the key lines of modern thoroughbred. The sheikh owns Godolphin, a "global thoroughbred breeding and horseracing team".

Richard McKie, chairman of the Godolphin Cross Community Association, wrote to the sheikh through his website, told him about the link and said: "So we feel we have a connection with you through history.

Goldophin Cross chapel (Image courtesy of Goldophin Cross Community Association)

"We are appealing for his help and support for the village of Godolphin Cross, which is about to lose the very last building which gives local people a place to meet and socialise together. We have lost our shops, our pub, our library and now we stand to lose our community home."

McKie said that the community needed to raise £100,000 and that "any letter of support, certificate or communication would be a great help to us".

'It’s the sort of thing you dream about'

- Paul Gray, Godolphin Cross Community Association

The community initially managed to only raise £25,000 and only hoped for Maktoum’s endorsement. Gray said: "We asked ourselves, why don’t we give it a go?”

The community has not been told the actual amount given - only that it now has enough money to buy the chapel and school.

Gray said the association would like to invite Maktoum to the village, although does not know if he would be able to attend.

According to Cornwall Live, the church is one of several on the Methodist circuit’s books that had been listed for sale.