ELECTRICAL giant AO.com has donated £1.5 million to a charity inspired by Bolton Lads and Girls Club.

Chief executive John Roberts and his wife Sally have made one of the largest single private donations to OnSide Youth Zones since it was set up as a charity in 2008 by Jerry Glover, a former chief executive of Bolton Lads and Girls Club.

The generous donation will help the charity continue its ambitious expansion plans to create a UK wide network of modern youth centres.

It hopes to use the cash to extend its network to 100 ‘priority’ locations — towns and cities where a facility would have the greatest impact on young people and their communities.

Last year, deals to build new facilities in London and the North East were agreed, and this year new facilities in Wolverhampton and the Wirral will be launched.

The total number of planned and operational Youth Zones is now at 20, including Bolton Lads and Girls Club itself which was used as a blueprint for the sites, as well as centres in Wigan, Carlisle, Manchester, Oldham and Blackburn.

The facilities provide children, aged eight to 19, and those aged up to 25 with a disability, with access of sport, arts, health and employability services seven days a week.

John Roberts, chief executive of Middlebrook-based AO.com, said: “Improving the life chances of disadvantaged young people is not a ‘nice to have’, it’s absolutely crucial to the long-term future of communities and the UK as a whole.

“Sally and I are proud to be able to share some of our success with a charity that is making a tangible impact on so many young people’s lives in so many important ways.”

Bill Holroyd CBE, the OnSide Youth Zones chairman, added: “We’re absolutely thrilled that John and Sally have made such a huge commitment to our charity. It’s a game-changing donation that will fuel our sustainable growth and help us encourage even more young people to lead healthy, active and positive lives.

“Self-made, community-minded entrepreneurs like John are an inspiration to young people and this act of generosity shows how passionate and committed our backers are about making a difference for future generations.”