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He was brought up in the East End of London. During the Second World War, he served in the Royal Navy, and used his Navy discharge pay to start a car hire and car sales business. This grew into a business empire worth, in mid-2007, over half a billion pounds. Jack became known as the grandfather of timeshare, and amassed his fortune with marketing in UK and abroad. It was the resort in Albufeira, Portugal, where the real timeshare boom took place, right up to late 2000's, when the whole conglomerate of leisure businesses was sold. In 1969, he was involved with property development, becoming one of the most successful businessmen in Britain.
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.
The Foundation also celebrates Adult Leaders who support young people and has funding available for educational visits and for young volunteers to carry out projects both in the UK and abroad.
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.
Petchey was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2004 and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2011 Birthday Honours for charitable services. He was knighted in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to young people in East London and Essex through the Jack Petchey Foundation.
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