Trading on the name of their village they approached His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Emir of Dubai and, more importantly, head of the global Godolphin horse racing empire. They pointed out to him the historic link between their village and Francis Godolphin, the second Earl of Godolphin, who in 1724 bred the legendary breed of Arabian horses from the bulk of modern thoroughbreds are descended.
The result was that the Emir dipped his hands in his pocket and handed over enough for them to buy the local Methodist chapel and schoolroom, following its closure by the church in May last year. Thanks to the Emir’s generosity, along with donations from local people, the Godolphin Cross Community Association has now raised what it needed to complete the purchase.
Richard McKie, the association's chairman, told The Telegraph: “The majority of the £100,000 target we reached came from the Emir. It’s a fairy tale really. It's not often a sheikh steps in to help a Cornish village." Villagers first asked Sheikh Mohammed for help last November as they struggled to raise enough cash to buy the chapel, which is the only community space in the village. Its use as a village hall was cast into doubt after the Methodist Church announced in 2015 that it was selling off buildings around the Mount's Bay area. Mr McKie said it would not be appropriate to say much Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum had offered, but it is understood the association raised around £25,000 though events and donations.
"We can't thank Sheikh Mohammed enough and we'd love to see him in this neck of the woods any time,” said Mr McKie. “He would be assured of a very warm welcome. "I think this shows that he's interested in the history and values this Cornish link. He has put his money to help a community staring down the barrel of having nowhere to go for community events. We are thinking of using part of the chapel to explain about the link."
Godolphin Arabian, the horse bought by the Earl of Godolphin, was the stallion that founded one of the three most important breeding lines in top class racing and the animal from which all the Emir’s horses are descended. The association now intends to raise a further £350,000 in order to fully restore and refurbish the building with new kitchen, toilets, youth club facilities, heating and solar panels.
The new fundraising campaign will be launched at the village’s annual summer fete, being held this Sunday at the National Trust’s Godolphin House. Godolphin Cross Community Association is also planning to approach the Prince's Trust for a grant towards the refurbishment cost, after the charity, founded by Prince Charles, said it could not contribute towards the purchase of the building. Of course the Emir, who is also Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, would be more than welcome to put his hands in his pockets once again. “He has already been incredibly generous,” said Mr McKie. “But if he wanted to contribute it would be fantastic. Then again it would be nice if a royal family closer to home could contribute something.”