Mr Martin and Carmel Naughton

The Prince of Wales Medal for Arts Philanthropy - 2008 Honourees

Martin and Carmel Naughton are not well known outside Northern Ireland, but the scale of their effect on that community is unmistakable. In a country where the notion of arts philanthropy is still in its infancy, they are trailblazers and pioneers.

Last year, the Naughtons made what is considered to be the largest ever gift to a Northern Irish arts institution, donating £1 million pounds to the Lyric, Northern Ireland's only full time producing theatre.
The Naughtons' donation to the Lyric serves two purposes. The money creates a new theatre studio dedicated to nurturing the talents of young people. But equally importantly the Naughtons also allowed their donation to act as a spark to inspire other philanthropists to contribute.

Mr Martin Naughton is an engineer by profession and is the founder of the Glen Dimplex Group - who make electrical heating appliances. He and his wife Carmel, have a special passion for the visual arts. Carmel was the first woman ever to chair the board of the National Gallery of Ireland, and under her guidance the gallery created its highly acclaimed Milennium Wing, which opened in 2002. A superb fundraiser, she gathered over 6 million euros from the corporate sector.

The Naughtons' commitment to the visual arts is best exemplified by the Naughton Gallery, one of Belfast's most exciting visual arts Destinations - the direct result of a £500,000 donation by the Naughtons to Queen's University in 2002.

Martin's philosophy is simple: 'For those of us,' he says 'who have been successful in life, rather than sitting back and criticising the government about what is not being done, we should be prepared to put our money where our mouth is, and support visionary projects that will prepare our country for the challenges that lie ahead.'