THE LIFE of a remarkable Evesham farmer will be celebrated in Worcester Cathedral - three hundred years after his will established one of the UK's most successful charities.

The John Martin Charity is in the top 1000 for British charities, in terms of value; and it annually distributes £700,000 to Evesham "for various charitable purposes, as defined by his will".

John Daniels, Clerk to the Trustees, said: "If John Martin were alive today, perhaps he would be amazed to see the extent of his legacy, from all those years ago."

The charity dates back to June, 1714, and is founded on Mr Martin's will, - which provided well for his wife but had some far-sighted and generous clauses.

The couple had one son, but he died as a teenager; and so the will stipulated that, after Mrs Martin's death, income from a 92-acre farm at Hampton should be paid to the town annually, through bequests to local churches, and this should continue "for ever".

Now the charity helps the community in various ways, from grants to local churches and educational grants to students on further and high educational courses.

The charity also helps people with health problems, and in financial need, and it provides money to local schools, to assist with their special educational need programmes.

It is a astonishing legacy for a notable man who was born when Charles 1 was on the throne, in 1637.

Mr Martin, as a child, would have lived through the tumultuous English Civil War and the politically experimental period of the English Commonwealth, under Oliver Cromwell, "The Lord Protector".

Mr Martin managed to live through the reigns of six monarchs, before his own death in 1714 - a momentous year which also saw the death of Queen Anne, the last Stuart monarch.

The service in Worcester Cathedral will take place on Wednesday, July 2, at 11am.

Mr Daniels said: "It will give people the opportunity to honour John Martin's memory, by giving thanks for the past, present and future of his legacy."

Choirs from Evesham High School and Prince Henry's High School will sing at the service.

Back in Evesham, a new flower bed outside the Almonry Museum has been planted in Mr Martin's memory,