Burton-born entrepreneur Mr Francis Robert Kerry’s million-pound mansion is finally to be sold.
Francis, known as Frank, rubbed shoulders with royalty and bankrolled many charity organisations across the town.
He came from a working-class family but built a 300-million-pound empire and founded the business Webb Ivory, which later became Fine Art Developments plc.
Frank earned his millions by starting his charity greetings card company which was said to be started from the back of a soup kitchen when he bought his first typewriter. From then, he became known as one of Burton’s largest employers.
He passed away peacefully at the age of 81, in 1995, leaving a wife, a son, five daughters and a beautiful home that once hosted grand parties, events, and charity dinners.
His daughter, Emma Kerry, said, “He was known for throwing many parties and being very generous.”
Mr Kerry, who rubbed shoulders with Royalty and celebrities, was also known as the “Mr big” of Burton business. This name not only stemmed from his huge fortune but also what he did for the community.
Frank gave many locals their jobs and treated them well, sometimes taking his workers to amazing places such as the Channel Islands.
Frank’s first national charity contract was with the National Society of mentally handicapped children. He helped raise money for the organisation by donating some of the profits from his charity greetings cards.
Now his mansion, which has stood empty for thirty years since his death, is to be sold. The building, in a state of disrepair, is the last physical reminder of Frank’s presence in the town.
Emma Kerry said the sale will be ‘sad’ for many of the Burton community. The huge, beautiful, building that was once the “hotspot” of Burton is now run-down and almost derelict.
The selling has unearthed incredible memorabilia including photographs of Frank with the Queen, Princess Diana, and Mohammad Ali. These framed photographs were some of the only things remaining in the once loved home.
Mr Kerry had received a Queen’s honour for raising and donating such substantial amounts for charities in and around Burton.
When Frank passed, it was big news in the town of Burton and many news articles were published paying their respects to the Kerry family. He was described by the Burton Mail as ‘Burton’s most charitable man’ at the time of his death in November 1995.
Frank’s daughters, and their own families, have paid tribute to his legacy. Tim Keen, who married daughter Sarah, remembers Frank fondly:
The Kerry family, who anticipate that once the mansion is sold it will be demolished, say that Frank is still ‘sorely missed’ in the town and now so will his family home.