John King’s Story - The Charity's Inspiration
Laura King, Chair of the Board of Trustees
John King was a much-loved chef with an international reputation and my beloved husband. Described by The Caterer Magazine as “one of the hospitality industry’s most highly respected chefs”, John’s 40 years in the kitchen included spells at The Dorchester, The Connaught, The Ritz Club, Le Caprice, Les Ambassadeurs, Crockfords and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Manila.
John won many accolades during his illustrious career, including the Gold Medal for Best Regional Team in the World for the Ritz Club at the 1988 Culinary Olympics. He was an active member of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts.
As well as cooking, John loved nothing more than inspiring and teaching the next generation of chefs. He was a part-time lecturer at Westminster College, where his own career started. Gary Hunter, Vice Principal for Hospitality and Adult Learning at the college said of John, “He was a remarkable chef and one of life’s true gentlemen. He was everything a professional chef should aspire to be.”
In 2015, we received the devastating news that John was diagnosed with a glioblastoma brain tumour, a condition from which he sadly passed away on 22 November 2016 after an incredibly brave and dignified fight against his illness.
Everyone loved John. Everywhere we went, people knew him. He was delighted when we arranged a picture of him with many of the students he taught. We were all so proud of him.
Our first successful project - The Zeiss Microscope
Our first major project in 2018 was to raise £150,000 for a state-of-the-art neurological microscope, enabling surgeons to remove more of a brain tumour and potentially prolong a patient’s life. The microscope is not available through NHS funding.
From funds raised from the Great Wall of China trek, the half marathon, our inaugural golf day, and our flagship Gala Dinner at Claridge’s, we were delighted to be able to purchase the microscope for St. George’s hospital - an achievement we are very proud of.
Ultimately, we want to support research into this fatal cancer which receives only 0.5% of all government cancer research funding, and has an average life expectancy of just 15 months. Sadly, many more people are being diagnosed with malignant brain tumours. Brain tumours kill more under 40s than any other cancer.
Click here to read more about the Zeiss Microscope.
Creating the John King Brain Tumour Foundation
During John’s treatment, we discovered the gardens for neurological patients outside McKissock Ward at Atkinson Morley Wing, part of St. George’s Hospital Trust, Tooting, London. The roof garden is a hidden oasis of green on the second floor of the Atkinson Morley Wing, next to the McKissock Neurosurgery Ward. The famous brain surgeon, Henry Marsh CBE, commissioned the gardens to help with patient recovery. However, following his retirement in 2015, the gardens needed some TLC.
"We passionately wanted to support the amazing work of the neurosurgeons at the Atkinson Morley Wing ."
John and I adopted the garden and brought it back to life with a team of friends. Helping us with the revival of the garden was RHS Gold Medal winning Garden Designer Tony Woods, and landscape company ‘Garden Club London Ltd’. Everyone was so passionate about improving and developing the roof garden that John and I launched a charity to raise funds for ongoing improvements and maintenance of the garden. Besides this, we passionately wanted to support the amazing work at the Atkinson Morley Wing in the treatment of brain diseases and brain conditions.
From money raised after John’s funeral, and with the amazing support of Tony Woods of Garden Club London, the garden is being upgraded and maintained as a wonderful haven for patients. The foundation received Registered Charity status on 18th March 2017. Our Board of Trustees, a wonderful group of people, will wisely spend and manage all monies raised through our charity.
Apart from John’s four beautiful children, this will be his lasting legacy.