Eccentric mogul Felix Dennis wants to buy one laptop for every child in the island nation of St Vincent and the Grenadines. He is the Honorary Consul in Warwickshire, eccentric and a very wealthy publisher and he has just brokered a deal for this Caribbean nation.
Felix Dennis, along with the Prime Ministeer of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Microsoft, the Taiwnese computer giant Acer, the former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Nicholas Maduro (his successor) negotiated that each one of the 12,500 secondary children in school on the island is to receive a new laptop. The schools have been given a five year licence to cover the children until the end of their studies. Teachers are set to receive specialist training in webinars from London.
The hope is that this small population will grow into a technology hub with many trained in computer skills. Felix Dennis’s relationship with the Caribbean nation started over fifteen years ago when he bought Mandalay (the hilltop villa on the island of Mustique which was formerly David Bowie’s). It is a favourite holiday destination of Price William and the Duchess. Tommy Hilfiger and Mick Jagger are among others who own villas in the area.
His super-luxurious accommodation includes flame-spitting stone griffins at the gate, Indonesian-style pavilions with columns and doors that have been carved from Javanese teak, courtyard pools and a veranda looking out to luxury yachts that are moored in the bay and all the while the smell of frangipani is on the air. Beside his home in the Caribbean, Dennis also has a six hundred acre estate in the Midlands where more than fifty bronze statues a shown off on the grounds.
Dennis Publishing is his very successful business, which publishes a portfolio of titles includign The Week, Viz and Auto Ezpress. He made a large chunk of his money when he sold Maxin in 2007, at which point it was the best-selling men’s magazine in the world. He is now the UK’s leading technology publisher, having been producing computer magazines for thirty years.
He has had a trying past with addiction and illness but he’s a true believer in paying it forward and has planted more than a million broadleaf trees in his Heart of England Forest near Bidford-on-Avon. Each year he gives four of his best-performing UK staff a holiday at Mandalay.
Julian Lloyd-Evans (one of his best-performing staff and managing director of advertising) believes that the project could inspoire other initiatives of a similar nature in other parts of the Caribbean and other nations that are developing.