Jack Petchey Foundation
If you think you can, you can!

Yasmin McIntosh's interview with Jack Petchey

On Friday 16th March 2012 I attended the Greater London Middlesex West Scouts Celebration Event at the Great Hall in Kensington. I was among the family and friends of young people who were due to receive their medallions on stage to recognise their achievements within scouting.

As soon as the audience were all seated it was ‘lights camera action!’ The music was pumping, the awards were flowing and every single person in the auditorium was enthused by each and every young person’s award – we clapped and smiled throughout the event.  It was a joyous occasion, orchestrated by an outstanding compere, Lee Thompson, who really made the event special.

However this Achievement Award Celebration Event was made even more special - Once all the awards were presented we all shared the experience of Mr Petchey being inaugurated with a C.B.E.

The audience fell silent as they watched Sir David Brewer, the Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, present the award, on the behalf of Her Majesty the Queen. It was humbling to listen to Mr Petchey make his acceptance speech, who was clearly overwhelmed by the reception received when the entire auditorium filled with applause.

I later learned that Mr Petchey had gracefully declined the invitation of being inaugurated by Her Majesty the Queen at the formal ceremony at Buckingham Palace, in favour of sharing the moment with the young people in society that he has worked so hard to support.

It is not hard to see why Jack was selected for this award. His services in the charitable sector have had a huge impact on schools and youth organisations throughout London and Essex.  He has created a platform to recognise the efforts and endeavours of young people and their adult supporters who work tirelessly to support them. Ultimately, he encourages countless young people, including myself, to play a full role in society, which is incredibly admirable.

After the ceremony, I was able to interview Mr Petchey about the Foundation, the CBE investiture and how he has influenced the lives of so many young people.

Many young people are pressured into choosing the right career paths for themselves so young, and yet only a few think they know what they actually want to do. With so many career options, it is hard to try and focus on just one. Do you have any advice for these people?

“I am a strong believer in goal setting.  Always have a plan so that you can focus on working towards and as you achieve each goal you will feel proud and accomplished. My goal was to leave school, to earn money and to work towards developing a sense of entrepreneurship from a young age.

Young people should nurture their talents. There is something that only you can do in your own unique way and so you should harness that ability – study and commit to the subjects that you enjoy the most - it will make learning much easier and fun! If you need support always take the time to talk to parents, guardians and teachers as they will support and help you.”
What would your message be to the young people today who either have very low self-esteem or feel their potential is not being recognised?

“If You Think You Can You Can - It’s all about your attitude and mind. Challenge yourself to come out of your comfort zone and that will help you to recognise your potential. If we push ourselves when we think that we cannot overcome the challenge, we become determined and resilient to achieve the end goal.”

What really inspired you to want to help and support young people, and why the age range of 11-25 years?

“I believe that as people, it is our responsibility to give back to our society. In Scouting and Girl Guiding we are often reminded to do a good deed every day, but all people should strive to do this.

Between the ages of eleven and twenty five is when young people learn most life principles.  These are our most impressionable years when we develop into our own characters which in turn determine how we approach the rest of our lives. I feel that young people should give back to their parents as well as helping one another. All young people should try volunteering at least once by working to help others in whatever way they can - do it and collectively, as you’ll have more power than what you would ever have on your own."

Your message ‘If you think you can, you can’ is a very powerful and inspirational message for all generations. How do you hope this message will be passed on to the future generations?

“Just keep pushing and sharing the word… it really is as simple as that!”

How does the recognition of your services to young people in the form of a C.B.E from Her Majesty the Queen make you feel?

“Immensely proud. The work of the foundation has enabled each and every award winner to feel proud too.”

And finally, what do you think is your greatest achievement and why?

“‘I’m eighty eight years of age and I go to work every weekday, Saturday and most Sundays too - that’s an achievement!

Each day is a step forward in my achievements. Being able to wake up and having so much to do is a reward in itself. The last thing I would ever want to do is wake up and have nothing to do. Each day, week, month and year people should set themselves goals to aspire to and to be proud to achieve them, no matter how big or small they are.”

Speaking to Jack Petchey made me realise the passion and confidence he has in young people in today’s society.  We should all be nurturing the talents we have as individuals, as well as supporting and encouraging those around us. By working together as a team we can pull each other through the hard times and focus on the good ones.

And of course set goals for ourselves… No matter how big or small, we will always have something in life that we want to achieve.
By Yasmin McIntosh (aged 15)
Ilford Ursuline Academy

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Yasmin and Jack

Yasmin and Jack

“If we push ourselves when we think that we cannot overcome the challenge, we become determined and resilient to achieve the end goal.”