Queen’s Birthday Honours: Rags-to-riches philanthropist Jack Petchey gets CBE

One of the biggest philanthropists of London’s East End who went from ‘rags to riches’ has been awarded the CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, announced today at one minute past midnight.

Jack Petchey, who already holds the OBE awarded in 2004, has given away millions from his personal fortune to help youngsters in deprived areas like the dockland neighbourhood he grew up in back in the Twenties and Thirties.

The 85-year-old—who made his fortune in the car trade and ‘time share’ property boom—is the classic working class ‘East End boy made good’.

He was born in July, 1925, and showed entrepreneurial skills from an early age. He was prosecuted in 1937 at the age of 12 for working under age. The prosecution at East Ham Police Court charged him with “carrying vegetables” after being caught hauling boxes of tomatoes. But the defence pointed out that tomatoes are a fruit—the case was collapsed.

Jack left school at 14 to start work as an office boy, then joined the Royal Navy at 18 during the Second World War.


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He went back to office work as a clerk after the war and applied for a management position—but was told by his firm he would “never make a businessman”!

So Jack Petchey quit with �60 savings, bought a motor-car and started a car hire business, then went into car sales and eventually into property including a holiday complex in the Algarve which he still runs.

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There is no sign of Jack Petchey slowing down, even at 85. He set up the Jack Petchey Foundation in 1999 to give opportunities to youngsters that weren’t available when he was growing up. He has donated �65 million over the last 10 years to schools, clubs and youth projects.

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