Petchey, 91, has built a hefty property empire through his Ilford-based Petchey Holdings with a commercial portfolio worth more than £500m. He was turned down for officer training while serving in the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War and then after the conflict, while working as a clerk at the Solicitors’ Law Stationary Society, he was rejected for management training and told he would never make a businessman. Petchey then started earning money working as a taxi driver, using his £39 military gratuity to help build a fleet of cabs, before expanding into used cars, property and timeshares. In 2006 and 2007 he sold about £225m of stakes in six companies and further sales in 2013 netted more than £50m.
He plans to donate the bulk of his fortune to charity through his foundation, which gives away £7m annually to support youth projects in London and the home counties and has so far gifted more than £110m. Despite his philanthropy we still value Petchey at £550m. Knighted in the 2016 new year honours for services to young people in east London and Essex, he followed this with marriage to the royal sculptor Frances Segelman in February last year.
A life in the day: Sir Jack Petchey