Donation by shipping magnate enables completion of conservation work and gallery construction

A shipping magnate and former sailor has donated £3.3m to enable completion of the project to restore the Cutty Sark and build an associated gallery.

The donation from 86-year-old Sammy Ofer, an Israeli who served in the Royal Navy during the second world war, will top up £23m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £8m in other donations, so that the conservation project can now be completed.

The costs escalated after a fire last May added considerably to the level of conservation work required, and the new donation from Ofer will plug the funding gap.

The project also involves construction of a gallery within the ship’s dry dock in Greenwich, south-east London, with the 1869-built clipper itself suspended several feet above.

The Cutty Sark Trust said it will name the gallery after Ofer in recognition of his generous donation. The opening is due in spring 2010.

Ofer also recently donated £20m to the UK's National Maritime Museum for the creation of a new wing.