Originally from Essex, Jack moved to Hong Kong in January last year after transferring overseas with global private equity firm, CVC.
In July, he happened to be home visiting when his mother Bev was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Bev died just four weeks later, aged 61.
“We’ve always been a very close family so my dad, my brother and I are completely lost without her”, says Jack. “She was so selfless she didn’t want to tell me about her diagnosis at first. I think at that point none of us realised how serious the situation was. After two weeks in hospital with us visiting every day, she was moved into hospice care and we slept there for two weeks. It all happened so unbelievably quickly.
“Mum was completely selfless. She lived for me, my dad and my brother and wanted us to be happy and do well at whatever we chose to do.
“Our grief is still very raw and I needed to have something big and really positive to focus on, and to give me some direction. At work we’d planned to do the HK360, and to be able to make a contribution in my mum’s name to a charity like PCRF means a lot.”
Thanks to the company’s incredibly generous philanthropy programme run through the CVC Foundation, on top of funding the event, the CVC Foundation will be matching employee donations by up to five times. Law firms Latham & Watkins and Milbank have also contributed generously to fundraising efforts, with two of their Partners also joining the relay team. The money raised will be split between local Hong Kong charity, Mother’s Choice and PCRF.
About the HK360 challenge, Jack says: “This is kind of the Asia equivalent of swimming the English Channel, with official rules and regulations to abide by, plus permission to attempt it has to be granted by the Government, mainly due to the precarious harbour crossing.”
And whilst the team will face similar hazards to the English Channel for their 20-hour relay swim – not least night swimming, jellyfish, strong currents and some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world – there are some others too. Thankfully sharks are quite rare, but typhoons at this time of year aren’t. In addition, the area can be plagued by bouts of ‘black rain’ which makes the water more acidic and can make swimmers poorly.
The full team comprises: Jack; Andrey Gromak (Managing Director, CVC, Hong Kong), Sally Gentle (Senior Vice President, J.P. Morgan); Josh Lewsey MBE (CEO, Asia Pacific Teneo Financial Advisory & former England international rugby union player), John Bona (Partner, Milbank, Hong Kong) and Andrew Bishop (Partner, Latham & Watkins, Singapore).
Maggie Blanks, PCRF’s CEO said:
“I can’t thank Jack and all the team enough for such a mammoth fundraising effort – and thanks too to CVC, Milbank and Latham & Watkins for their generous contributions. The funds raised will be used to drive research that will improve future survival for pancreatic cancer patients. We’re so grateful for everybody’s support and we’ll be anxiously waiting to hear that the team completes the swim safe and well!”
Jack’s fundraising page is here: https://www.justgiving.com/page/hongkong-360