Good fortune and adversity have both been part of life for Jo Precious and have strengthened her resolve to help others.

Born into a family who once owned the Trebor company originally located in Forest Gate, Jo grew up in Ingatestone. When the family's firm was sold, her father, Ian Marks and his wife Angela, founders of Essex Community Foundation, set an inspiring example of how to be an innovative philanthropist.

Jo's contrasting experiences of being the youngest daughter in a family with a privileged heritage and having her own struggles with cancer and two marriage break-ups have given her great insight and an inbuilt empathy with people from all backgrounds.

She has an established charitable fund with Essex Community Foundation (ECF) to help tackle issues that she sees as crucial in society, but many find too difficult to confront.

Caroline Taylor, chief executive of ECF, said: “Our relationship with Jo is a great example of how we work with our fundholders to tackle issues that matter to them.

“It is a mutually beneficial experience; she has a deep interest in helping people who are so often overlooked or find it difficult to get the empathy and support they really need, and we know the charities and voluntary groups that are tackling these issues in their local communities and need funding to support their work.”

Jo's fund with ECF is called The White House Farm Charitable fund, named after her home in Suffolk. Recent grants have supported projects that are providing training for companies around domestic violence, supporting women working in the sex industry in Southend, supporting victims of rape and abuse and helping children whose parents have an alcohol or drug addiction.

“It is so important that people going through such traumas are given the right support and have some hope, particularly at this time when everything is being pushed to the boundaries,” Jo said.

“If people who have been through abuse and trauma can get the help they need they can move on to recovery and do really well.

“Much of my focus is on children, because I feel that the experiences they have in their early years are vital for their future development.”

The Trebor factory in Forest Gate pictured in 2006

The Trebor factory in Forest Gate pictured in 2006

Jo still has a great affinity with Essex, which is why grants from her fund helps voluntary and community groups giving support to people in the county.

“My mother Angela still lives in the house in Ingatestone where I was born and my father Ian, who died three years ago, was an amazing role model and is an ongoing inspiration to me,” said Jo, who has three children and two grandchildren.

“When my children were little life was difficult, becoming a single mum after a divorce. Going through breast cancer and recently the end of another marriage has also been difficult, but I feel stronger and happier now.

“I am lucky to have my family around me, I keep on counting my blessings and more than ever, I want to give back as much as possible to make a difference to others.

“When I was in the beauty business and clients came for treatments they would open up about their lives. It gave them someone to talk to and gave me a greater understanding of what people go through and some of the issues they were dealing with.

Jo describes herself as a practical and hands-on person and she is optimistic about the future and how we can all re-assess our priorities.

“Having a fund with ECF is something I value very much. They can see what sort of person you are and can help you realise what is possible, linking up with your own interests and focussing on issues that are important to you.

“I am proud that my parents founded an organisation that is achieving so much and is keeping their wonderful philanthropic spirit alive.”

If you are interested in supporting your local community by setting up a charitable fund with ECF, perhaps in the name of your family or business, call 01245 355947 or email

More information can be found at