A HAMPSHIRE hospice has been presented with a £50,000 legacy left by a former Saints chairman who helped save the club.

Leon Crouch, a highly-successful businessman who was renowned for his generosity, died at Oakhaven Hospice in Lymington after a short battle with cancer.

Mr Crouch, 70, of Lymington, was a lifelong Saints fan and paid around £1.6m to buy a significant stake in the club in 2006.

The following year he became acting chairman and then chairman, serving until the end of the 2007/08 season.

He is credited with keeping Saints afloat, dipping into his own pocket to pay wages and other overheads after they went into administration in 2009.

Following his death in 2019 friends praised his contribution to the club's survival, his business skills and his "incredible kindness" towards charitable causes.

Now his daughters, Hannah Leonardi, Lara Crouch and Louise Rolls, have presented a £50,000 cheque to Oakhaven's chairman of trustees, Prof Paul Dodson, and its patron, the Hon Mary Montagu-Scott.

Hannah said: "We are thrilled to be able to honour our father's wishes and present Oakhaven with his legacy, which we hope will help others in the community who are in need of the specialist care Oakhaven provides.

"We as a family are incredibly thankful for everything the hospice did to support us and our beloved father."

Oakhaven's chief executive, Andrew Ryde, added: "Leon was deeply committed to the hospice and has made a lasting impact on Oakhaven.

"We are so grateful he included a gift in his will. His legacy will make a very real difference to those we care for both here in the hospice and out in homes across our community."

Mr Crouch became one of the biggest industrialists in the New Forest after founding the Fullers Group in 1978.

In 2015 he sold his company, Lymington Precision Engineers, which employed more than 220 people, for around £46m.

Speaking shortly after Mr Crouch died fellow businessman Neil Welker said: "Leon was a Lymington legend who did an incredible job - he put everything he could back into his local community. People like him come around only once in a lifetime."

One of Mr Crouch's closest friends was Patrick Trant, chairman of Trant Engineering.

He said: "Leon was an English gentleman. From humble beginnings he achieved outstanding success in his business career and was also incredibly kind to charitable causes."

Recalling Mr Crouch's time at St Mary's he added: "Saints fans will remember him for stepping up in a crisis when others walked away."

Former Lymington mayor Anna Rostand added: "Lymington has lost a local hero."

Town councillor Jacqui England said: "He was a unique individual who did an awful lot for the economy of Lymington and the welfare of the people who live here."