‘You never think it will hap­pen to you’ – widow tells how phone call changed her life for ever

Wales On Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - WILL HAY­WARD Re­porter will.hay­[email protected]­line.co.uk Fol­low­ing the crash a 36-year-old man was ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of caus­ing death by dan­ger­ous driv­ing. A South Wales Po­lice spokesman said the man has since been re­leased un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.