Jim, tell us a little about life before HCB…
I was born in 1960 in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and pretty much from the time I could talk I knew I wanted to be a Policeman. My Mum tells me that as a small boy, I used to wait at the gate of our garden for the patrolling constables to come by on their bicycles, and they would tell me about being a policeman, one even handcuffed me to his bicycle handlebars one day, and I was apparently delighted! I pursued this dream, and in 1976 I joined the BSAP as a Cadet. I knew instantly that I was to be a career Policeman, and I was thoroughly dedicated. The Force was pretty universally referred to as “One of the Finest Police Forces in the World”, and my senior officers must have recognised my enthusiasm, so I was offered the chance to work in the Criminal Investigation Department as a Cadet making me the first Police Cadet ever to earn this privilege.
By the age of 18 I had completed my regular Police training, and was to engage like all others of my age, in National Service, after which I returned to my dream of regular Policing. I was to return to the CID, and after working the usual rounds, Drug Squad, Fraud Squad, Homicide, I was ultimately posted to the aptly named ‘Political Crime Squad’, an unfortunate posting during the disruptive time of Rhodesia turning into Zimbabwe. I was to make what was for me a heart-wrenching decision to leave the BSA Police, and my beloved Africa behind, and come to the UK to live.
How did HCB come about?
I resisted the temptation, once in the UK, to join another Police Force, but decided rather to have a go in the commercial environment. With my Police experience I joined a London-based Security Company, and after a short period of service was asked if I would create an Investigations division. I did this, again very enthusiastically, and eventually identified Income Protection (then called ‘Permanent Health Insurance’) as an insurance product that was potentially susceptible to fraud. I made my way into the handful of insurers that wrote this product at the time and was to build a relatively large and successful investigations agency helping insurers protect themselves against the small number of fraudulent claims.
Along the way, I joined industry bodies and events, and in 1993 was approached by the CEO of one of the major UK Reinsurers, and invited to establish a company with a vision of helping gather information at the front end of a claim. Through experience, my significant network of colleagues and friends that I have built and nurtured over the past 36 odd years, I have created a service that now reaches way beyond the insurance industry, and is something I am enormously proud of, which is the HCB of today, providing a diverse yet connected range of services which all co-operate to help people either stay at work, or return them to work when illness or injury strike.
Outside of HCB, your interests are diverse, tell us a little about these interests.
You will probably never understand my delight in finding the UK based Regimental Association of the British South Africa Police, which I joined as a Member in 2002. This organisation offers the opportunity to reconnect with friends, old and new from all those years ago.
The BSAP was a massive influence on how I chose to run my life, and my friends and colleagues in that Association all around the world share the same values, ethos, integrity and culture. It is truly unique that the Association membership retains the respect for seniority and rank in people that held those positions more than 40 years ago, who without looking for it, are automatically afforded the same respect. It is a truly wonderful thing. I had therefore resolved to volunteer my services to the Committee of the Association, which I did and was appointed Treasurer in 2015, a role I once again pursued pretty punctiliously, leading to my very recent election to the Chair of the UK Regimental Association, an appointment in which I feel enormously privileged and honoured to serve.
I also served 20 years on the Governing Board of my local village Primary School, where my children attended, the last 10 of which I served as Chairman of the Board. My youngest Son is a professional ballet dancer and undertook his professional training at the oldest Vocational Ballet School in the world, Elmhurst Ballet School, based in Birmingham, and associated with the Birmingham Royal Ballet. I saw how that School transformed his life, just like the BSA Police had transformed mine, and once more I offered my support to the Management team. I have served on the Management Board at Elmhurst for the past 12 years, and in November of last year was elected as Vice-Chairman of the Board.
I feel a true sense of contentment with my activities outside of HCB, I have a powerful network of incredible friends and colleagues, and as with all my life endeavours, I strive to show fairness, kindness and support to everyone I come into contact with, and to conform to my family ethos, which is “leave it better then you found it”.