Chris Jellow

I am proud to have joined the board of Trustees as Treasurer for LNK.

I was born at then Mayday hospital and raised in Thornton Heath, living in Croydon my entire life but for a few years spent at university. My childhood was a happy one, as being one of seven siblings and one of what felt like several hundred cousins, I was never short of things to do or people with which to spend my time.

My mum has always said that from the minute I could walk I constantly had a football at my feet and I have loved the game ever since I could remember. If it wasn’t for these knees I’m sure I would have made it, maybe, but I’ve since resigned myself to playing Croydon Sunday league football and supporting Palace - much to the ridicule of many of my friends throughout school.

I did well enough in school to get into university to study biomedical science. I have always found the study of medicine and the human body fascinating so I very much enjoyed the course. This degree was always intended to be a precursor to studying to become a doctor, but unfortunately I could not realistically see being able to afford a postgraduate degree. Academic interest aside, I have always wanted to be able to help people, which is why being a doctor was an ambition of mine for a long time.

Being a third year university student and deep into my overdraft, I needed to find a job. In the end, it was my lab partner who suggested to me what is my current career as a property tax advisor for a large firm in London, where I have now been for nearly 6 years. This job required me to study for two further qualifications, first as an accountant and second as a tax adviser – 4 more years of exams after university. It’s safe to say that if I never see another exam hall again it would be too soon.

I’ve been lucky enough to travel a lot and see some amazing places in the world, but I have always felt a sense of pride in being from Croydon; partly as a result of simply being my home, but partly due to it being what I think is an abundant source of talented people.

Hometown pride notwithstanding, I have never been under any illusions as to the challenges we face. At the time, travelling to and particularly from school each day, you ran the risk of being faced with a knife. It seemed that most days there was at least one story of a robbery at knifepoint or a stabbing, oftentimes fatal. What was striking was that the people involved in these incidents were often not bad people, but people who made certain bad decisions at the wrong time. It was and still is a grievous thing to carry and use a knife, but something that, for whatever reason, became so commonplace that we all became somewhat desensitised.

I have been faced with a knife a few times, most recently about 18 months ago when walking home through Croydon after a friend’s birthday. This person who could have been no older than 16, showed me his knife and wanted to rob me for my frankly not-worth-robbing watch. We talked, and after the initial hostilities the mood shifted and we ended up laughing and joking about football; he could not believe that I actually supported Palace. It was a strange encounter but it reminded me of what it was like at times growing up.

Most recently, the teenage son of a family friend was stabbed and killed in the middle of Croydon. I had known him since he was born as our families were close, particularly when we were younger. When he was younger, he would always ask me to play Pro Evo and we often did, sitting in my room playing PlayStation for hours whilst the family function was going on downstairs and outside. His death was a shocking and difficult reminder that young people are dying regularly for no good reason.

I wanted join the board of LNK for the simple reason that too many young people from Croydon do not value their lives and the lives of others as much as they should. LNK works to give young people who grow up in the same place I did extra support to feel that they can do something positive with their lives. I joined the board to help with something that helps young people get on the right path. I hope that I can help LNK to continue to make a difference, as it would be as proud as an achievement for me as any.