Jack Petchey CBE was born into a poor working class family in the East End in 1925. He left school with no qualifications when he was 13. Jack joined the Navy’s Fleet Air Arm in 1943 during the Second World War and applied for Officer training but was unsuccessful. On discharge from the Navy he began working as a clerk for the Solicitor’s Law Stationary Society though when he applied for management training, he was told he would never make a businessman!
Jack refused to give up and investing his £39 discharge gratuity from the Navy, he bought his first second hand car and started a taxi business. He worked long and hard, overcoming adversity and going on to become a multi-millionaire through his various business ventures, which have spanned from motor car dealing and garages to property, travel and investment.
Petchey was a director at West Ham United FC from June 1978 until 1989 and chairman of Watford F.C. for 10 years, buying the club from singer Elton John in 1987. Petchey resold the club to John in 1997. Jack Petchey was appointed as Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2004, and elevated to Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2011 Birthday Honours for charitable services.
Jack Petchey Foundation
In 1999, Jack set up the Jack Petchey Foundation to support young people 11-25, raise their aspirations and enable them to play a full part in society. Since its inception, the Jack Petchey Foundation has invested over £90 million in a range of schools and youth organisations to achieve these aims.
What he ‘gives’ is greater than money though; the same entrepreneurial skills that he brought to his business have led to some really innovative schemes for young people.
Jack seeks to increase young people’s aspirations by rewarding their achievements and encouraging them to take pride in what they have done. He brings communities together to really celebrate and ensure that the young people have a moment of glory and that their parents/carers/ teachers and youth workers are there to witness it.
He focuses on the positives rather than highlighting the negatives. Yes, young people face problems and challenges, but Jack believes that if you focus on these you risk creating a negative spiral. Alternatively, if you reward success and help young people feel positive about themselves you can give them the confidence and aspiration to change, overcome adversity and live to their full potential.
The Jack Petchey Foundation's flagship programme is its Achievement Award scheme - a reward and recognition initiative which enables schools and youth organisations to celebrate the achievements of their young people as well as receive additional funding. Almost 2,000 schools, colleges and youth organisations across London and Essex run the scheme, which contributes millions of pounds each year. Among the organisations on the scheme are sports, music and performing arts clubs, uniformed and disability groups, and youth clubs.
On top of the central grant giving programmes, the Jack Petchey Foundation runs a number of partnership programmes including the Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge, Step into Dance, Panathlon, the London Schools Table Tennis Championships and the Anthony Nolan Register and Be a Lifesaver programme.
- The London Gazette: . 11 June 2011.
- "Main list of the 2011 Queen's birthday honours recipients". BBC News UK. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
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