THE SECRET MILLIONAIRE – Mike Holland

by Lisa McGarry

At 63, Mike Holland owns a property portfolio around Brighton worth £20 million. When he’s not dining on champagne and lobster, he’s shuttling between the stately home he runs as a business, his multitude of rental properties and the historic venue he’s turning into a major museum. Mike was raised on a rough South London housing estate and built his fortune by hard graft, first as a brick-layer and then as a property developer.

With a strong work ethic, Mike is constantly on the go, and firmly believes that you make your own destiny in life. With four marriages and seven children, Mike’s had a full family life including more than his fair share of heartache. His fourth son Chris was starved of oxygen at birth and born with cerebral palsy. His eldest son, Brian, died in his arms aged 13 from cancer. It was 25 years before Mike could look at Brian’s possessions and start processing his grief, which he now bitterly regrets.

Mike’s found comfort by channelling his grief and restless nature into charity fund-raising in Brian’s memory. He’s not afraid to stand in front of a room of his peers and get them to dig deep for local causes; usually those to protect the interests of vulnerable children and young people.

Mike’s going undercover to another seaside town, Grimsby, which the collapse of the fishing industry has turned into a shadow of its former glory. The contrast with feel-good Brighton couldn’t be stronger. Mike volunteers at FLAG, a club that takes care of children with additional needs while offering crucial respite to parents and carers. With a disabled son of his own, Mike knows all too well the pressure this can put on relationships. Close to the docks, Mike visits Motor Project, a charity teaching children who are struggling at school self-belief and basic mechanical skills by working on scrap vehicles. Finally, Mike makes contact with the McPhees, who’ve recently set up a charity to buy breathing equipment in memory of their daughter, who died from a fatal asthma attack. This experience draws out painful memories for Mike of Brian’s death and also his desire to help them with their grief.

Sunday 4th December – Channel 4 8pm