A D-Day veteran who warmed hearts the world over when he “escaped” from his care home to attend the 2014 commemorations in France has left his entire estate to the charity that saves lives at sea.

Bernard Jordan passed away in early January, having charmed the nation with his real-life tale of derring-do in June 2014.

Following the death of his wife just seven days later, the couple’s will was executed, revealing that the couple left almost their entire estate – circa £600,000 – to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

Mr Jordan, who was an elected councillor for Hove Borough Council for 34 years, made headlines the world over in 2014 when he left The Pines care home in Hove unannounced, and was reported missing to Sussex Police the same evening.

He turned up days later in Normandy where he joined hundreds of other veterans of to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

Dubbed “The Great Escaper” after his display of pluck and determination, Bernard and Irene will now help to save lives at sea for years to come with the generous gift in their wills.

Paul Boissier, RNLI chief executive, said: ‘This is absolutely wonderful, unexpected news.

‘Bernard’s story charmed the nation last year when he journeyed from his Sussex care home to France to commemorate the D-Day landings. That spirit, that determination, is embedded deep within the psyche of our volunteer lifeboat crews who go to sea to save others in peril on the sea.

‘I am delighted that the couple chose to leave us this sizeable donation, and their contribution, like those of Bernard’s veteran peers, will never be forgotten.’

Bernard Jordan passed away in early January, leaving his entire estate to his wife Irene. She died just seven days later and left their entire estate to the charity that saves lives at sea.

The RNLI believes the admiration and support for its cause stems from Bernard’s time in the Royal Navy during the Second World War – it suggests he had an affinity with people who spend time at sea.

Guy Rose, legacy admin manager for the RNLI, said: ‘This is a wonderful gift from Bernard and Irene. He really made a name for himself last year and there can’t be many who weren’t touched by his story.

‘Gifts left in wills are so valuable to the RNLI and they ensure we can continue our lifesaving work for people in, on or near the water.

‘Of course, a will is an extremely private thing. But after taking care of loved ones, even the smallest gift in a will is vital to saving lives at sea and critical to the future of the RNLI.

‘Six out of every 10 lifeboat launches are only made possible because of gifts in wills, so we are extremely grateful when people support us in this way.’

Bernard Jordan’s funeral will be held at St Michaels and All Angels Church in Brighton on Friday 30 January.