Opinion  

Gospel of James

Jeff Prestridge

Jeff Prestridge

James, 50, is a self-made businessman. On the surface, he has got it all: a long-standing business, a strong marriage, two wonderful children in their teens both privately educated, a magnificent house in Surrey and a whippet called Brian who would give Dame Kelly a good run for her money (now – not necessarily in her prime).

Yet, scratch a little deeper and you soon realise there is more to James than meets the eye. Two years ago, he lost his 14-year-old autistic son George as a result of a colloid cyst on the brain.

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In typical James fashion, he now pays homage to his beloved George by sponsoring a race at Sandown Park in Surrey, in the process raising money for four charities close to his heart.

A couple of weeks ago, £30,000 was donated by guests attending the George Lindon-Travers Memorial Handicap, adding to the £30,000 from last year’s event.

James has had his own dice with death. In May last year, he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. One almighty operation later, resulting in a 3.5 centimetre tumour being removed as well as 35 centimetres of colon, he’s now fighting back.

Back in hospital last week to have a ileostomy bag removed, he told me – in his typical upbeat way – that he has a 75 per cent chance of the cancer not returning.

Life is good, he said, and he was looking forward to returning home and having a glass of chilled chardonnay with wife Julia.

It has been a battle and a half. But it has all been made a little easier by the fact that 13 years ago, he purchased a critical illness policy just in case anything like nasty bowel cancer came along to derail his life.

The maths is simple. In return for £23,000 paid in premiums, he has received a tax-free pay-out of £400,000. A reassuring financial cushion at a time of great upheaval in his life.

As a mortgage broker, James sells financial protection insurance for a living. But despite his passion for the cover, he is unable to convince three in four borrowers of its importance.

Maybe, once he is back at work, and fortified by his own experience, he will be able to urge more of his clients to protect their finances.

I truly hope so because the facts are straightforward. A third of us will get cancer at some stage in our lives – but most of us will have little or no protection in place to provide a financial comfort blanket at a time of great stress.

To all you mortgage brokers and financial advisers out there, make it your duty to protect your clients. If in doubt, speak to the extraordinary James Lindon-Travers.