Multimillionaire who showered kids with £20k of gifts will spend £50

Multimillionaire who showered kids with £20k of gifts will spend £50

Multimillionaire who showered his children with £20,000 of Christmas gifts will spend £50 on each child this year after swapping lives family living on council estate so they don’t become ‘materialistic’

  • Matt Fiddes made millions in martial arts schools and compensated for long working hours by spoiling kids
  • He once spent £20,000 on lavish Christmas presents and bought his daughter, then aged just three, a pony    
  • The 39-year-old has pledged to scale back this year and is buying dinner from Iceland for less than £40

A multimillionaire who once lavished £20,000 on Christmas presents has pledged to scale back and spend just £50 on each of his five children after exchanging lives with a family on a council estate.  

Matt Fiddes built his fortune with a string of martial arts schools across the UK and his business empire is now worth a reported £300 million.

He lives in a lavish six- bedroom home in the Wiltshire countryside and the gravel drive houses not just his Bentley, but his top-of-the-range Land Rover and wife Moniqe’s Range Rover.

The 39-year-old would buy each of his five children sackfuls of gifts at Christmas and once gave his daughter – then aged just three – a pony. 

The Fiddes last year swapped lives with a family from a council estate in Southampton for the Channel 5 show, Rich House Poor House.  

Having witnessed first hand how families on the other side of the wealth divide struggle, the entrepreneur will this year be buying stocking fillers from Primark, Asda and Poundland and Christmas dinner from Iceland.

The Fiddes family, from left: Lola,12, Zack, 5, Madison, 11, Savannah, 11,Hero, 3, and Moniqe, 25 with Matt, 39, behind 

Multimillionaire Matt Fiddes (pictured with his wife) is cutting back on his Christmas spending after seeing how the other half live

The Fiddes live in a lavish six- bedroom home in the Wiltshire countryside and the gravel drive houses not just a Bentley, but a top-of-the-range Land Rover and Moniqe’s Range Rover

The Fiddes (pictured) swapped lives with the Leamons, who live on a council estate (pictured) in Southampton

Mr Fides runs a chain of 700 martial arts schools and was a millionaire by the time he was 21.

He was a one-time friend and bodyguard to Michael Jackson, and ‘moved in those circles’, thinking it normal to have private jets, designer wardrobes and more bathrooms than you can ever use.  

For the first time Mr Fiddes’ wife Moniqe, 25, will buy the Christmas dinner from Iceland for less than £40 instead of their usual M&S or Waitrose haul.

The pair have set a budget of between £50 and £100 per child for presents.

Mr Fiddes said: ‘We make a point of not spoiling the children now. It doesn’t matter if we can afford to.

‘The kids weren’t bought up very normally at first. I used to spend thousands without even thinking about it, but it wasn’t what is important in life.

‘I didn’t grow up particularly privileged myself, but becoming successful at 21 introduced me to a whole different world and my spending went crazy.


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‘I used to try and compensate for working all the time by showering my children with gifts – one Christmas got far too excessive and I spent £20,000.

‘But I realised it isn’t how I want my kids to grow up – I don’t want them becoming obsessed with materialism and money. 

On the menu for their Christmas dinner is a £3 honey glazed frozen gammon joint, £3 frozen crackling pork leg and 60p rice puddings, all from Iceland.

The food shopping list comes to just £39.48, with multipacks of Fanta Zero and Coke Zero the most expensive items at £8.

Their sons Zack, five, and Hero, three, are set to get Thomas the Tank Engine toys (which range from £10-30) and Spiderman costumes (£16 from Argos).

Lola, 12, asked for a £399 camera, but Matt and Moniqe decided against it and opted instead for a £100 model.


For the first time Mr Fiddes’ wife Moniqe, 25, will buy the Christmas dinner from Iceland for less than £40 instead of M&S or Waitrose 

Matt Fiddes, 39, with Hero, 3, Lola, 12, Madison, 11, Savannah, 11, and Zack, 5 – who are all set to get fewer gifts this year 

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    It’s a far cry from previous years, where the entrepreneur estimates he spent £20,000 showering his children with gifts.

    He bought firstborn Madison, now 15, a pony when she was three, and was a self-confessed ‘flashy father’, driving the family around in his £130,000 Ferrari.

    Mr Fiddes insists he is much happier raising his children to be less materialistic with Madison even getting her first job as a waitress. 

    Moniqe, who grew up in South Africa and was not used to living a life of luxury, has also inspired his new outlook.

    The couple, who have been married for six years, are expecting their third child together – Matt’s sixth – this month.

    They are both parents to Matt’s daughters from a previous marriage, Madison, Lola and Savannah, and sons Zack and Hero.

    Moniqe said: ‘When I first moved to the UK with Matt it was a bit of a culture shock.

    ‘I had been raised very modestly, so when they brought out sacks and sacks of gifts the first Christmas I spent with them I couldn’t believe it.

    ‘You can see on a child’s face if they really appreciate something, and having so much I could tell it didn’t mean as much to them as it should.

    ‘I have gotten more used to it, but when my mum came to visit from South Africa it was a bit of a wake up call – she was upset that her other grandchildren would get one £10-20 gift and we had sack fulls of toys.

    ‘It is not how I was raised and after that I became more strict – I want to set an example. I don’t want my kids to grow up with everything handed to them.’


    Matt Fiddes (pictured with his wife left and right)  built his fortune with a string of martial arts schools across the UK which are now reportedly worth some £30 million. The 39-year-old would buy each of his five children sackfuls of gifts at Christmas and once gave his daughter – then aged just three – a pony

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      Moniqe, who grew up in South Africa and was not used to living a life of luxury, has also inspired his new outlook 

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        Mr Fiddes added: ‘The kids have taken to the changes really well, I’m so proud of them.

        ‘They’d rather spend time with me than the latest gadget and that’s important.

        ‘Listening to Moniqe’s stories growing up less fortunate has helped them to understand. Moniqe is very humble – she loves to shop at Asda and Iceland, she buys clothes for everyone at Primark.

        ‘Her favourite shop is definitely Poundland. She knows how to sniff out a good bargain and will get a few little stocking fillers for the kids from there.

        ‘She does the food shop and chooses what we have – and she never fails to surprise me. She bought a frozen lobster from Iceland for £6 and I couldn’t taste the difference.’

        The big change came after the family took part in the Channel 5 show Rich House Poor House last year, after which they reined in their spending.

        The show sees a family in the richest ten per cent of the UK swap lives and budgets with a family from the lowest ten per cent for a week.

        The Fiddes swapped lives with the Leamons, who live on a council estate in Southampton.  

        The most humbling house swap of all: Rich and poor families switching lives for a week is a familiar tale – but this time the millionaire dad was so overawed by the inspiring sacrifice of his opposite number it changed his life for ever 

        When Kim Leamon and her husband, Andy, stepped into the shoes of a millionaire family for a week, it wasn’t the vastness of their mansion that shocked them most. 

        Or the fact that their ‘garden’ ran to 60 acres and included an orchard and horses. Or the gleaming Bentley that was theirs to drive.

        What floored them were the contents of the grocery delivery that arrived — courtesy of Ocado, naturally.

        Being canny Lidl shoppers, used to eking out a £40-a-week budget to feed a family of four, the Leamons baulked at how much the Fiddes family — their ‘house-swap’ partners — spent on their main supermarket shop in one week. 

        And given the Fiddeses’ love of eating out in fancy restaurants and ordering in expensive takeaways, this wasn’t even their full food bill.

        ‘They spent nearly £200!’ says Kim, 32. ‘The most shocking thing was that they’d ordered six packs of avocados — with two in each pack. Who needs so many? The avocados alone were £16.20. That’s more than my son’s school shoes cost!’

        The Leamon and the Fiddes families were participants in Channel 5’s Rich House, Poor House, which sees a family from the richest ten per cent of British society swap homes (and lives) with a family from the poorest ten per cent.

        But this house-swap was markedly different from any others that have come before. Living such an extravagant life — and avocados are only the start of it — the Fiddes family were humbled to step into the shoes of the husband who works night shifts so he can earn a modest salary of around £1,000 a month — or 740 avocados — and care for his disabled wife.

        Kim Leamon her husband, Andy, and their children, who stepped into the shoes of a millionaire family for a week

        The Leamon and the Fiddes families (pictured) were participants in Channel 5’s Rich House, Poor House, which sees a family from the richest ten per cent of British society swap homes (and lives) with a family from the poorest ten per cent

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          On camera, millionaire Matt Fiddes was moved to tears when he compares his parenting skills with Andy’s, and finds himself lacking. Money, he concludes, cannot buy a happy family life.

          ‘I think Andy is a superhero,’ he says. ‘His kids worship him. He puts everyone else before himself.

          ‘He looks after his wife, does everything around the house — and holds down a job. If this experiment has taught me one thing it’s that I want to be more like him. I got to spend the whole week with my kids, which is unusual. They don’t want your money — they want your time.’

          Both families had their eyes opened during their experience. Kim was shocked to discover that even spending £200 on groceries — including fine wines and steak — did not cover the basics.

          ‘I had to go out and buy things for the kids’ lunches,’ she reveals.

          So did she enjoy being able to eat top-end groceries? Apparently not.

          ‘I couldn’t help but feel that if I’d been given £200 to spend on groceries, I could have made it go so much further. I could have shopped for the month,’ she says.

          Husband Andy agrees. ‘I guess when you don’t have to worry about money, you just don’t care what you spend.’ 

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            Moniqe, a glamorous former singer from South Africa, has a vast wardrobe of designer clothes and a cleaner to make her stay-at-home-mum role easier.

            The couple’s sons, Hero and Zack and Matt’s daughters Lola and Savannah, from his first marriage, have only to ask for branded trainers for them to appear.

            ‘I do spoil them, particularly the girls, because I wasn’t around a lot when they were little,’ he admits.

            The couple’s attitude to money? It’s perhaps best summed up by Matt’s admission that he keeps banknotes in the door pocket of his car, ‘and if a few tenners fly out, I wouldn’t be bothered running after them’.

            The Leamons, on the other hand, watch every penny. Kim can no longer work, following an accident a few years ago, and suffers from a condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, which leaves her unable to walk for more than a few yards. She gets around using crutches and a borrowed wheelchair.

            Andy’s very modest salary, around £1,000 a month, supports the couple and children Freddie, ten, and Olivia, eight. He works in an emergency call centre for the elderly, mostly doing night shifts so he can act as a full-time carer for his wife.

            The Leamons constantly worry about the mortgage payments on their home — a three-bedroom terrace on a Southampton council estate. And not being able to feed their children in the run up to payday is a genuine fear.

            ‘We signed up for the show because it would mean one week of not having to worry about bills,’ Andy says.

            ‘It was everything to be financially stable for a week. Filming was the week before payday, too. Good timing.’

            At the end of the week each family goes back to their own lives. For the Leamons in particular, this must have been difficult. ‘We saw it as a holiday,’ Andy confides. ‘The chance of a lifetime, to live as millionaires.’

            The rules of the show are simple. Each family moves into the other’s home, and is handed their spending money for the week.

            After their mortgage and bills are accounted for, the Leamons are left with £170 a week to spend (on food, clothes and socialising), so this is what the Fiddes family have at their disposal.

            Their shock is palpable. ‘That would just about fill my fuel tank in the car,’ says Matt. The Leamon family take much longer counting out their spending money. 

            Andy is left reeling to discover it comes to £1,500.

            ‘That’s more than I earn in a month. And they have that for a week,’ he tells me. ‘I could have cried.’

            So, now they are back home, how did each family find the experiment? Andy and Kim admit that, on the surface at least, they had a blast.

            They got to go out for an unheard-of meal together, sampled caviar (not worth the money, it seems) and tried not to faint when the bill arrived (£254).

            ‘I got to drive a Bentley, which was a dream come true,’ says Andy. ‘When you put your foot down, it purrs — it actually purrs.’

            Kim, meanwhile, was taken aback by the house.

            ‘It was stunning,’ she says. ‘I’ll probably never be in a house like it again. But it was too big — with my mobility problems, I simply couldn’t get around it.’

            During their five-year marriage, Moniqe reveals, he has never cleaned a dish or cooked a meal. Pictured, Moniqe in the Leamons’ home

            What did she make of Moniqe’s wardrobe? Kim chooses her words carefully. ‘She can afford to splash out and is obviously someone who cares a lot about clothes and make-up. I don’t, and I don’t think I would even if I could afford to.’

            Then there’s the garden. It makes for emotional viewing watching Kim sit (in a hired mobility scooter, which they could never afford in the ‘real’ world) looking over the rolling countryside that makes up the Fiddeses’ back garden.

            ‘I don’t want to leave,’ she says. ‘This view makes you feel as though you have no worries in the world.’

            By contrast, the cramped living conditions at the Leamons’ home visibly stun the Fiddes family.

            ‘My kids and my wife are used to living in a big house in the countryside. They’ve never had neighbours,’ explains Matt. On arrival, he has to explain the basics. ‘These are terraced houses,’ he says, as his kids (and wife) seem to think they have landed on another planet.

            ‘On the first night, no one slept very much,’ Matt tells me. ‘There was a lot of noise — people outside, shouting, smoking, music playing. There were sirens overhead. Moniqe was scared. I ended up sleeping on the sofa, just in case.’

            There are other adjustments to be made — on both sides. While the Leamons struggle with the fact they have a choice of bathrooms, the Fiddes family seem horrified to have only one.

            When Moniqe cannot get hot water for her shower, Matt blows £50 of their tiny budget on an emergency plumber. ‘There was so much that needed fixing in the bathroom. And outside the patio slabs were unsafe,’ he says. ‘That got to me: the idea that these people couldn’t afford to get stuff like that fixed, and had to live with it.’

            Kim, meanwhile, gets to see how the other half live when she takes her daughter shopping for new clothes — a rare event. Rarer still is that she can afford to pay £63 for two dresses. ‘To see how happy Olivia was with her new dresses was incredible,’ she says.

            So what do she and Andy buy for themselves? Nothing. Old habits die hard. Though they do splash some considerable cash on a day at a theme park.

            Back with the Fiddeses, while Moniqe makes a good stab at feeding her family on a budget, it’s clear how little Matt usually does on the domestic front. During their five-year marriage, Moniqe reveals, he has never cleaned a dish or cooked a meal. This quickly becomes apparent. ‘How do you make the foam?’ he asks, when asked to wash the dishes.

            But the big question, of course, is whether each family would want to swap with the other permanently? Not surprisingly, the Fiddes family say they were thrilled to get back to their own lavish abode.

            And the Leamons? While Andy says he could get used to that sort of lifestyle (‘I’d have the car in a flash’), Kim is not so sure.

            ‘I’d say I love my own home, but maybe with a bit of their sort of money I’d do it up,’ she says.

            ‘To be able to afford a stairlift would be nice.’

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