Customers of Reg Vardy are helping to give deprived children in the North-east a better education.
Sir Peter Vardy places part of his income in a foundation which supports Emmanuel College, Gateshead, for students aged 11-18. Two thirds of the 1,250 students are from deprived areas.
The college is geared to give disadvantaged young people the best start. The proportion achieving five or more A to C grade GCSEs rose from 75% to 98% between 1995 and 2000.
Over the same period, the proportion staying on to take A-levels has risen from 11% to 85%.
Sir Peter, whose Queen's Birthday Honours knighthood was for services to business and education, said: “It's been fabulous to be involved in this. People sometimes say they wished they had taken more risks in their lives, and been able to leave something behind them.
“Working in the motor industry, I am not short of risks and with the foundation I have something to leave behind.”
Sir Peter, who is 54, inherited the business from his father Reg who once sold coal from a horse and cart in the Newcastle upon Tyne area.
A devout Christian, Sir Peter expects his 5,000 employees to meet seven Vardy values which include respect and integrity.