Soho House founder Nick Jones feared prostate cancer would kill him as he reveals only wife Kirsty Young knew the truth about his secret battle to live
Soho House founder Nick Jones has revealed how he feared prostate cancer would kill him and that the only person he confided in about his secret battle to live was his wife.
The 60-year-old, who set up the exclusive members club on London’s Greek Street in 1995 and went on to create a sprawling global empire which attracts the likes of Harry and Meghan, was diagnosed with cancer in June 2022.
The entrepreneur has now shared hit survival story, including how he only opened up to his wife Kirsty Young, the TV and radio presenter and former Desert Islands Discs host, about his struggles.
Speaking just over a year on from life-saving surgery, Jones told The Times: ‘I kept it very much to myself. I carried on with work. I’d go off to a different room and be told my results while I was in the middle of a meeting.
‘The only person who knew was Kirsty — she came to all the meetings. It was a very unsettling time.’
Soho House founder Nick Jones has revealed how he feared prostate cancer would kill him and that the only person he confided in about his secret battle to live was his wife Kirsty Young (pictured together)
The 60-year-old, who set up the members club on London’s Greek Street in 1995 and went on to create a sprawling global empire which attracts the likes of Harry and Meghan, was diagnosed with cancer in June 2022
Nick Jones and Kirsty Young got married at Babington House, the first rural Soho House, in Somerset
But as the Soho House magnate confided in his wife, she was just emerging from her own health crisis. Young was forced to step back from her career as she was suffering from chronic debilitating pain triggered by rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Jones said it was extremely difficult to watch her wife in so much pain but described her as ‘heroic and quiet’ about handling it.
Soho House founder Nick Jones tells FRANCES HARDY: ‘We men need to take on prostate cancer as brilliantly as women have with breast cancer’
Young has made a sensational return back to work, fronting the Platinum Jubilee in 2022 and covering the Queen’s death on the BBC. She also hosts a new podcast called Young Again, where she has spoken to the likes of Jamie Oliver about what they would tell their younger selves.
Jones said that he finds it incredibly interesting to have a talented interviewer as his wife and puts a lot of his fortune down with Soho House down to her.
They first met in 1998 when Young stayed at Babington House, in Somerset, which was the first rural Soho House.
Their relationship started just six months after Jones divorced his first wife Tania who he shares two children with – Natasha, 30, and Oliver, 28. He also has two daughters with Young, Iona, 17, and Freya, 22, who recently made him a grandfather.
Jones, keeping his secret battle to himself, did not tell his children when he was diagnosed with cancer.
He says that he did not want to worry them, especially with the power of the word ‘cancer’. He did, however, tell them straight away when the cancer had been successfully removed.
Jones previously told The Mail how didn’t even know precisely where his prostate was, or its function, until he was diagnosed with a large and aggressive tumour on the gland, which had to be urgently removed.
The Soho House tycoon lost both his mother and father to lung cancer and pancreatic cancer respectively. Their deaths at 63 and 72 has always made him stay alert to the disease – and he often has blood tests.
Babington House (pictured) was where the couple first met in 1998 when Young was staying there
The Soho House tycoon lost both his mother and father to lung cancer and pancreatic cancer respectively. Their deaths at 63 and 72 has always made him stay alert to the disease – and he often has blood tests
It was summer last year when doctors sent him for an MRI after a blood test showed Jones’s PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels were ‘a bit variable’. The MRI found a ‘very significant, very aggressive’ tumour.
Since having his prostate removed last September, Jones has been given the all-clear and is now trying to raise awareness about the disease, including writing to all Soho House members to encourage men to check. More than 12,000 men die a year of prostate cancer in the UK – something he believes could be cut down if found early.
‘What happens is, quite a lot of the time, men die of embarrassment,’ he told The Times. ‘Or they quietly have it [treatment] done and don’t want people to think they have issues downstairs.’
Jones said he doesn’t want to be an individual sob story but he did fear he would die.
Last November, Jones stepped down as chief executive of Soho House owner Membership Collective Group after recovering from his cancer.
He passed the reins to current group president Andrew Carnie. Its New York-listed parent company MCG is now worth £233m, with more than 40 sites around the world and 211,000 members. It spans 38 Soho Houses, The Ned in London and New York and Scorpios Beach Club in Mykonos.
Since having his prostate removed last September, Jones has been given the all-clear and is now trying to raise awareness about the disease
Hugh Grant, Jude Law, Madonna, Kylie Minogue and Nicole Kidman are all among the celebrities who have been spotted at Soho House who attract those in media circles.
The Dean Street branch – which opened in 2015 – was the venue chosen for Prince Harry and Meghan’s first date. Jones was a guest at their wedding while his wife covered the ceremony for the BBC.
When asked whether he was still friends with the royals, he replied: ‘I know them, yes.’
Talking about his new reduced role in the business, he told The Mail: ‘We have a brilliant new CEO, Andrew Carnie, who does all the heavy-lifting. I’m still on the bus, but I’m not driving any more. I’m encouraging, being creative, designing and opening new houses.
‘When you’re a CEO in the hospitality business you’re pretty much on duty 24/7 — but that’s not my responsibility now. I’ve worked hard, long hours to build the houses but nothing’s possible without good health, which is why men must all be vigilant. We all need to look after ourselves.
‘And yes, I want to spend more time with the family, play much more tennis — although I’m appalling at it — and go for walks in the countryside with Kirsty near our home in Oxfordshire.’
Last November, Jones (with Young) stepped down as chief executive of Soho House owner Membership Collective Group after recovering from his cancer
Kirsty Young and Nick Jones at the GQ Men of the Year Awards, Royal Opera House, London, in 2010
Speaking ahead of his 60th birthday last month, he said: ‘At my age you have lots of lovely things to look forward to. The whole slog is fading.
‘When you deserve to be putting your feet up you don’t want to be battling with illness.
‘Men should not be waiting until prostate cancer has spread and the symptoms are established. They need to be proactive. We have to get the mortality rate down.
‘I know now I’m not going to die of prostate cancer because I don’t have one.’
The ice-blue eyes crinkle into a smile. ‘I’m glad to say I can wipe that off the list of my worries.’
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