‘JACK HAD SO MUCH GOING FOR HIM’:
‘You never think it will happen to you’ – widow tells how phone call changed her life for ever
IT WAS 8am on a Saturday morning in late October when Luisa Berry, alone in her Cardiff Bay flat, took a call that set in motion a day which would change her life for ever. Her husband of nearly three years, popular chef Jack Berry, had been involved in an incident involving a car while out cycling with friends.
“Jack had gone out at 6am and usually when he leaves at that time he would not wake me up,” said Luisa, 29. “Liz from the pub he worked at rang me and said that the boys had been in an accident.
“I said ‘What kind of state are they in?’ and she said that she thought Jack had been hit.
“They were down at Bridgend hospital so I left straight away.
“The whole way down I was getting upset and I remember thinking I was going to feel so stupid because when I arrived they would probably just be sitting there with a bandage round their heads and it wouldn’t be bad.”
Once she arrived it became clear that things were very serious.
“I got there and I was told that no one had been brought in by ambulance yet,” she recalled. “I was there for about an hour and half before the paramedics came in and took me into the family room. The police officers came in and asked who we were because I was there with two of the other wives, as Jack had been with two other blokes when he was hit.
“Up until that moment it never even crossed my mind it could be as bad as this.
“Andy and Matt, , the two who were with Jack, , had been knocked cked unconscious – we were told it was instant for Jack.”
The 26-year-old -old died at the scene of the crash on the A48 between the Cowbridge bypass and Pentre Meyrick eyrick at around 7.28am on October ober 28.
Financial contractor ntractor Luisa then went to Cardiff’s ’s University Hospital of Wales (UHW), UHW), where Jack’s body was eventually tually taken, and was joined by his parents arents Tina and John.
The previous s 10 months had been a rollercoaster aster ride for the young couple.
Jack, who grew up in Abercarn and went to Cwmcarn High h School along with his younger brother other Charlie, had given ven up a £50,000-a-year job as a financial contractor to work as a chef in the Bush Inn in St Hilary near Cowbridge.
Far from seeing this as a step down, , hard- worki ng g Jack viewed the he long shifts and £8.20-an-hour salary as a means to fulfilling his dream. m.
“I have always s wanted my own business,” ness,” said Jack’s father John, ohn, 52. “I always wanted d that ‘Don’t have to listen to o anybody’ way of living. I have ve been in the Army and so have ave Jack and Char- lie. It wasn’t really what any of u us wanted.” The family would often hav have Dragons Den-like conversations abo about the sort of business they wanted to f form and, in January, Jack took the plun plunge. John, a business de development director, said: “Jack in pa particular did not want to be told what to do. Over the years we have had dozens of conversations – wrapping businesses, selling cars – and I always alw wanted to do it. “Jack went in the A Army and went to Afghanistan istan. He came ou out and he g got a job in t the company I was working for. He could do it with his eyes closed but wasn’t happy. Last Christmas he said he couldn’t do it any more.”
So Jack, who spent six years in the forces and served with B Company, 2 Royal Welsh, turned to the kitchen.
Luisa said: “He always had a passion and natural flair for cooking and he was put in touch with Andy and Liz, the owners of the Bush Inn in St Hilary down towards Cowbridge. He started working there in January this year, basically just spending hours chopping, but in the end he got made head chef.
“He wanted to have his own place. We were in the beginnings of looking to find somewhere to start out.”
Giving up a well-paid job to work hard and push himself epitomised Jack as a man.
Standing at 6ft 2in, it is easy to imagine he always had such drive and confidence – but according to his loving parents that was not always the case.
“He was incredibly sensitive as a primary school boy,” recalled John, speaking at his home in Monmouthshire.
Retired Tina, 50, believes it was sport that at started to bring him out of his shell.
“When he started rugby and taekwondo do it gave him some confidence,” she said.
Dad John added: “He went to high h school and the sports teachers were e incredibly motivational. He started to o believe in himself and went from a retir- ing type to a sportsman.”
Playing in the back row at number r seven or eight, he went on to play in the Newport Gwent Dragons academy.
“He wasn’t naturally gifted but whatever he did was 100%, so he was one of those players you would rely on – one of the unsung heroes,” added John. “He went from sensitive youngster to being able to lead a group of older men on the rugby field in the Army.”
It was this love of sport that led Jack to cycling. The pub he worked in has its own cycling team and once he started he was hooked. He wanted to take on the Tenby Ironman next year.
According to widow Luisa, he wasn’t always such a keen cyclist.
“He has never been into cycling and found cyclists annoying,” she laughed. . “But at the pub they have their own team m and he was hooked.
“When Jack said he was getting a bike and nd I said: ‘Jack how can you go from hating ting cyclists to wanting to be one?’
“That was him in a nutshell. He wanted d to be the best at it and challenge himself.”
Luisa and Jack had been married for almost most three years when the tragedy struck.
The couple had met at a barbecue and had exchanged numbers.
Half-Fijian Luisa was living in London at the time and for their first date Jack drove all the way from Wales.
“I remember I was so nervous,” said Luisa.
“With him driving I knew he wasn’t drinking so I didn’t want to drink when he was stone-cold sober and I remember sitting on the train shaking! “We got there and he was so quiet and I am the opposite – I was just talking. “He drove me home and we were talking in the car till four o’clock in the morning. “We got married on New Year’s Eve 2014 so he had no excuse for forgetting our wedding anniversary!” According to the family, the outpouring of support they have seen since Jack’s death has been remarkable. John said people from the Army have been getting in touch, saying Jack had helped them get through their training by going for extra runs with them. He said: “The support from family, friends and people we don’t even know has been incredible. “Every message, phone call and visit has helped. Initially no one wanted to say the word ‘Jack’ but now we talk freely about him.” This support, combined with the money already put aside for Jack to run his own business, gave the family an idea. They are determined to put the cash and goodwill to use and are starting a foundation in Jack’s name. The Jack Berry Fijian Foundation will officially become a charity in the new year and the family want to build a preschool in the Fijian village where Luisa’s family is from. John said: “I have always had in the back of my mind to do something and have always been a strong believer in fate, karma and everything happening for a reason. This has tested that belief. We want some good to come of this.
“I think if people are going to donate or fundraise it makes it easier for them if they can see it is a registered charity.”
Welshman Jack held a special place in his heart for the Pacific island nation. After his first visit he fell in love with the way of life and, according to his family, would have moved there in a heartbeat.
“I took Jack to Fiji after my dad died in 2013,” said Luisa. “It was the perfect opportunity for my family to meet the man I was going to marry. I took him out to one of the villages where you are living on generators and have head torches. He absolutely loved it. He would go and build rafts with the blokes, go out on the farm, cut bamboo – he just loved it.
“Missing my home comforts, I wasn’t enjoying it as much! He loved that way of life.”
The family will be naming a state-of-the-art preschool after Jack and will fundraise to offer ongoing financial support.
“After this happened Johnny came up with the idea of putting the money that was going into buying the pub to some use,” said Luisa. “I spoke to my uncle, who is the chief of the village. We have asked him what needs to be done in the village and he said there was no preschool. “
Jack has left a hole in the lives not just of his parents and widow but also his younger brother Charlie with whom he was incredibly close.
“Accidents like this happen every single day ... but you just never think it is going to happen to you,” said Luisa.
People who want to support the charity are asked to sign up for updates on the new website at www.jackberryfijianfoundation.com