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Essex philanthropist and businessman Sir Jack Petchey turns 95 today

19th July 2020
Posted by Johnny Jenkins

Sir Jack Petchey, founder of one of the UK’s most successful business empires and of youth charity the Jack Petchey Foundation, turns 95 today – 19th July 2020 – as his Foundation celebrates 21 years of improving opportunities for young people across Essex.

Born in 1925 in Plaistow, Essex to parents Dorothy and Stanley Petchey, the now successful business mogul Sir Jack Petchey CBE came from humble beginnings. Born shortly after the last Pandemic and just before the 1930s economic crash, there were little opportunities, with Sir Jack leaving school age 13 to work for the local green grocer.

At age 17, he joined the Royal Navy where he learned vital skills in maths, algebra and geometry, and was put forward for Officer training, but 3 months in he didn’t get through the selection process and upon enquiring why he was rejected, he was transferred to the aviation branch of the Royal Navy.

After World War Two, he was discharged from the Navy in January 1947 with only a small fee to pay his rent. Sir Jack returned to his former job as an office boy at the Solicitor’s Law Stationary Society in East London. 

With ambition and a deep desire to grow within the business, Sir Jack asked to be trained as a manager only to be told he was “not management material”. Rather than accept rejection, he handed in his notice and decided to set up a business on his own.

Faced with no income and a need to pay his way, Sir Jack bought an old car and used to start a taxi service business returning soldiers home from the docks into central London.

The business expanded as he acquired a fleet of cars to hire, before realising that selling cars was more profitable. He established a chain of garages and, after a short while, realised that selling properties was more profitable than that. 

Sir Jack first embarked in the property business in 1954 which rapidly grew into Petchey Holdings which now manages a commercial portfolio which includes over 4 million sq. ft. of industrial properties and over 350 residential flats in central London.

Sir Jack now occupies the seventh spot on the Essex Life rich list 2019.

Sir Jack has always focused on giving back to the community and established the Jack Petchey Foundation in 1999, a grant giving organisation that funds a wide variety of opportunities for young people across London and Essex.

The Foundation celebrates its 21st birthday this year and has to date invested over £133 million in programmes to benefit young people aged 11-25 across London and Essex.

Sir Jack is very keen to share what he has learned with young people. Reflecting back on his life, he believes that his greatest investment has been in young people and the work of the Jack Petchey Foundation, which has inspired thousands of young people to achieve more. 

Image: Sir Jack Petchey with his knighthood