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JOURNALISM: Junior Achievement  [Download .doc version]

JA Biz Hall 2004, by Jeffrey Reed


David Patchell-Evans, CEO of GoodLife Fitness Clubs, finds irony in the fact he is both an exercise fanatic and the youngest-ever inductee to the London Business Hall of Fame. However, the 51-year-old owner of the world’s largest privately-owned fitness company also finds satisfaction in joining much senior members of the Hall.

The late Joseph Jeffery, a diversified businessperson and former London Life Insurance Company president (from 1958 to 1982), will be honoured along with Patchell-Evans at the 14th Annual London Business Hall of Fame Induction Dinner on October 20. The two latest laureates join a long list of inductees, including John Labatt II and Henry J. McManus, charter Hall members in 1990, and last year’s inductees, Mitchell A. Baran and Warren R. Schram.

Junior Achievement of London & District established the Hall as a way to recognize members of London’s business community who have exemplified the true definition of entrepreneurship. JA London was founded in 1963, and today offers 10,000 children and youth in London and area economic education through partnership with local business.

Patchell-Evans was twice sold on fitness – at age 19 following a serious motorcycle injury, and later in life when arthritis forced him to keep active. The Toronto native expressed his entrepreneurial spirit before he graduated from the University of Western Ontario with an Honours degree in Physical Education. Entering Huron College "on a student loan and a prayer," Patchell-Evans operated a snowplow business, and in 1979 used his earnings to purchase a 2,000-square-foot fitness club.

"I had 120 (plowing) contracts, including Fred Kingsmill, a London Business Hall of Fame member (1999)," says Patchell-Evans. "I learned from all of those businesspeople. To be inducted is a surprise and an honour, especially when I see the accomplishments of the previous inductees."

Patchell-Evans is also a deserving inductee. Overseeing 90 fitness clubs across Canada, he was awarded the London Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Business Achievement Award in 1995, and saw GoodLife Fitness recently recognized by the National Post as one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies.

An involved community member, Patchell-Evans lends support to numerous causes. Most recently, he made a personal donation of $750,000 to a UWO neuroscience research team to establish the Kilee Patchell-Evans Autism Research Group.

Barry Fitzgerald, president and CEO, JA London & District, says Patchell-Evans’ biography "reads like an incredible success story. He’s a true entrepreneur with a strong work ethic who has given back in an incredible way to this community."

Jeffery was also an involved London businessperson. He was a successful lawyer, banker, broadcaster, and Naval Officer who earned the rank of Captain during World War II. Jeffery played important roles within many businesses, including London Life, Jeffery & Jeffery, Barristers & Solicitors, The Toronto Dominion Bank, and London Broadcasters Ltd. His community involvement included roles with YMCA-YWCA and UWO Board of Governors. Jeffery died in 1999.

"Jeffery had a very diverse background – an incredible well-rounded story," says Fitzgerald.

Also at the October 20 dinner, a special tribute will be paid to the late Margaret (Miggsie) Lawson, a beloved London philanthropist affectionately known as "The Little Hummingbird," and a past member of JA London’s advisory board of trustees. Lawson died in May 2004.

Says Fitzgerald, "She held JA, and other philanthropic efforts, close to her heart."

JA London will also award Stephen Middlemiss, a senior support engineer with Netcon Technologies, with the Alumni Award of Achievement. Middlemiss has been a JA volunteer for two decades.


> The JA-established (1990) London Business Hall of Fame, sponsored by JA and housed on the second floor of the London Public Library central branch, recognizes two new inductees October 20 at the London Convention Centre: David Patchell-Evans, owner and CEO of GoodLife Fitness Clubs; and the late Joseph Jeffery, former president of London Life and lawyer with Jeffery and Jeffery, Barristers & Solicitors.

> JA will also pay tribute to the late Margaret (Miggsie) Lawson, a London philanthropist and supporter of JA who died in 2004.

> Stephen Middlemiss, a senior support engineer with Netcon Technologies and long-time JA volunteer, will receive the Alumni Award of Achievement.


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