A CITY hospice has lost out on a £3 million bequest earmarked for a 10-bed boarding wing after a row with a wealthy couple over a broken fridge-freezer they bought from the charity’s home store.

Mr and Mrs Bunyan were “disgusted” that St Richard’s refused to refund a £22 collection cost they paid to have the appliance taken from the hospice’s Homestore in Lowesmoor to their home.

During resultant discussions, they claim they were informed by commercial director Dan Corns that their legacy would no longer be used for a new wing “as all of their planning land is already being built on”.

Instead, it would allegedly be used for other projects – not yet specified.

The couple had opted to leave all of their fortune to the Wildwood Drive hospice around 10 years ago, they say, with it being spent on the wing to be named after them.

They also claim, in recent years, the hospice has asked them if it could spend some of the money prior to their deaths, which they have refused.

“We frankly feel that we have made a serious mistake in choosing St Richard’s Hospice as the beneficiary to our wills and that the three million pounds legacy would be better allocated to a different [and more] worthy cause,” said Mr Bunyan, 77.

The couple say last week they officially re-wrote their will to remove the hospice.

The Bunyons – who live on a farm 25 miles away – bought the £120 fridge-freezer on May 13 but claim they were told by a staff member the store could not deliver that far.

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They instead hired a Land Rover and trailer from a fellow farmer, who then invoiced them for £18.33 plus £3.67 VAT.

Once home, the appliance’s rollers were found to be damaged, and it was then left to stand upright for five days before being switched on when it was discovered the freezer section was faulty.

The charity agreed to refund the cost of the fridge-freezer and collect it but the Bunyans were advised it did not reimburse initial delivery or collection charges.

In letters from Mr Corns and chief executive June Patel, the couple were told the store would have delivered to their home for a standard fee of £30, and that this was apparently explained to them in-store.

Ms Patel told the Bunyans the faults could have been caused by “possible outcomes of incorrect transportation”.

“We believe this is likely to be the cause of the fault with your purchase,” she added.

Responding to Ms Patel via email, Mr Bunyan said he and his wife were “utterly disgusted with the various responses” from the hospice.

“The collection cost us two thirds of a days’ work, not to mention the printing cost involved to print the online fridge freezer manual amounting to 14 pages.”

He went on to say the claims made regarding the unsuitable transportation are “utter rot” as the couple had recently transported two other large fridges and had laid them on their sides too as per “expert advice”.

“It is perfectly correct and acceptable to lay a fridge on its side for transportation, providing the door hinges are uppermost,” he said.

Mr Bunyan added that the store volunteer’s claims that a delivery day was suggested but rebuffed as unsuitable was “utter lies and utter rubbish”.

He went on to say they “feel completely disillusioned with the so-called integrity of St Richard’s” and “cannot believe the lengths” gone to in order to “renege” on what they believe is the honourable thing to do.

Mr Bunyan said the charity is “utterly and completely unprincipled, driven only by the ‘here and now’ quick saving without thought to the honour deserving toward others”.

He added: “The whole affair has been an unbelievable experience. We are absolutely honourable people. We did not expect treatment in the fashion that we have received.”

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In a statement to the Worcester News, Ms Patel said: “We’re sorry to hear that Mr Bunyan is unhappy about the outcome of our recent discussion with him about the pre-used fridge/freezer he purchased from one of our charity stores.

“St Richard’s honoured their obligations and arranged to collect the fridge and refund the full amount paid for the item.”

She added: “We are extremely grateful to all those who consider leaving a gift in their will to St Richard’s and appreciate it is the choice of each individual as to whether they donate in this way.”

She went on to say, “We have never seen a copy of Mr Bunyan’s will or are aware of the precise details contained in it.

"To our knowledge he has never been asked to donate money relating to his potential legacy but may well have received literature referring to our ongoing need to fund the hospice services.

“We feel we have responded in a professional and honourable way and pride ourselves on being a caring and compassionate organisation with all our supporters, patients and their loved ones.”