Until recently the Cole family seemed to have everything going for them.
Charles, 46 and his wife, 39, have been happily married for 20 years. They have four children aged 11, 15, 17 and 19, all of whom were privately educated.
They were also multi-millionaires – the couple own a stunningly beautiful Manor House and farm in Devon worth around £2.25million and over 60 buy to let properties. With all their children privately educated in top public schools, life seemed good.
But today the family face losing not only their home but also their business.
In 2007 Charles made a disastrous investment. With rising school fees to fund, he took a £3.3 million loan against his home and buy to let properties to invest in a property deal in Romania – it all went wrong and now the family, unable to pay back the loan – which with interest has now reached £5million – face being made homeless. Their bank has told them their home and other properties will be repossessed within months.
They have already had to take their children out of their private schools – May was about to begin GCSEs and Elizabeth, her A levels.
He admits he made a foolish mistake by believing the lawyers and other professionals who recommended going ahead, that there was no risk. And as investigations continue into where his money went, he is now seeking a legal case and compensation.
But despite the fact Charles has never missed a bill in his life, his bank isn’t cutting the family any slack at all. Charles says they are ‘heartless’ because instead of writing off some of the loan – or waiting for the outcome of his legal case – they require it to be paid back by April.
Worse, as Charles explains in the Daily Mail story, he is unable to sell his properties to pay back the loan because they would all be subject to capital gains tax, which would immediately bankrupt him.
CHILDREN HAVE LEFT THEIR SCHOOLS
Fortunately their eldest son, 18, had finished at his public school – although plans to go to university are on hold. But Charles faced every parent’s nightmare when he had to sit Elizabeth and May down and tell them they had to leave the public schools they adored. They are now being taught from home and younger sister Charity will soon join them.
The family did not inherit their wealth – the couple worked hard to build it up – and as the loan takes so much money they are currently virtually penniless. Yet ironically until they are actually out on the street they won’t qualify for any benefits.
UNFAIR BANK TREATMENT
Charles came to me to place his story because he feels desperate. He feels he’s being treated particularly unfairly by his bank and wanted to raise awareness that financial nightmares can and do happen to anyone.
Having spoken at length to Charles, he is a true gentleman who is so down to earth and both he and Iona are absolutely delightful to talk to. They are not a ‘bling family’ but incredibly hard working. We can only hope that the bank will give the family more time to pursue their legal case and we will be following the family’s plight.
Do you have a financial story you would like to see in a national newspaper, such as the Daily Mail? Perhaps you have been or are in debt? If so, contact me via Featureworld.