Sir Trevor Pears, chair of the philanthropic trust that has just donated £5m to the new Cumbria School of Medicine, has spoken for the first time publicly about his family’s decision to back the new project.

Sir Trevor, who runs the Pears Foundation on behalf of his family, explained how from the very first time he heard about the idea of opening Cumbria’s only school of medicine, he was sure that he wanted to get involved.

The philanthropist outlined how he was impressed by two specific aspects of the scheme: the fact that the new school would provide a tailor-made curriculum designed specifically for the region, and that it would be delivered jointly by an alliance of powerhouse universities, Cumbria and Imperial.

Sir Trevor said: “As soon as I heard about plans to open Cumbria’s first ever medical school, one with a curriculum designed specifically to fit with the needs of the local community, I knew I had to find out more.

“In essence, the answer as to why I was so keen lay in two things – the brilliance of the team working on the project and the ambition of the vision itself.

“The idea of building and opening a medical school in a place that is markedly “under-doctored” was wonderful in itself, but once you layer in the fact that it will be a graduate school that will grow doctors with a local medical expertise, I was completely sold. “

Sir Trevor went on to explain that the mission of the new Cumbria School of Medicine, which is due to open in September 2025 with a first cohort of 50 graduate students, dovetailed with the mission of the Pears Foundation itself.

He said: “One other thing really attracted us: the potential philanthropic legacy.

“The Pears Foundation makes long term investments in initiatives that we believe will have meaningful and in-depth impacts. It is one of the great advantages of being a family-led foundation that we can take the long view.

“And that is something we believe the new Pears Cumbria School of Medicine will achieve. It will guarantee that year after year, generation after generation, Carlisle and Cumbria will produce its own doctors.

"These doctors will often come from the surrounding communities and, in part because of the way they are trained, will be deeply committed to the local area and its people.

“I feel incredibly strongly that this is nothing less than Cumbria deserves. I am just happy that the Pears Foundation can play a part in making it happen.

“It was one of the easiest decisions of my career as a professional philanthropist, alongside my two brothers, to agree that our family Foundation should help turn this idea into reality.”