What Jacqueline Gold said about her breast cancer diagnosis

‘I cope by finding opportunity in a bad situation’: Ann Summers tycoon Jacqueline Gold revealed how she used her breast cancer diagnosis to ‘banish worry’ and ‘live her best life’ in poignant post just nine months before she died aged 62

  • Ms Gold is credited with transforming Ann Summers brand owned by her father
  • Jacqueline died on Thursday night. Her father passed away on January 4

Ann Summers tycoon Jacqueline Gold wrote how she had used her breast cancer diagnosis to ‘banish worry’ and live ‘my best life’ nine months before her death aged 62. 

The businesswoman died on Thursday evening after seven years fighting stage 4 cancer having briefly – and tragically – been given the all clear in 2020. The news is a double tragedy for the Gold family, coming just ten weeks after her ‘hero’ West Ham owner father David passed away.

Jacqueline had spoken out about how she was coping with cancer in a LinkedIn post last summer, telling followers that while it was ‘no secret I have been through a lot of tragedy in my life’ she was trying to emphasise the positives. 

‘Whilst I would prefer things to have been different, I cope by finding the opportunity in a bad situation,’ she wrote. 

‘For example, if it wasn’t for my breast cancer diagnosis six years ago I wouldn’t be living my best life now. 

‘If you train your mind to find the positive in every event you will banish worry and feel empowered.’

Jacqueline Gold had spoken out about how she was coping with cancer in a LinkedIn post last summer

David Gold with his daughter Jacqueline, who died last night after a long battle with breast cancer

Jacqueline, left, with her sister Vanessa and David Gold’s partner Lesley Manning (right) in January as they laid flowers for Mr Gold on Green Street, where he grew up, after his death in January

Jacqueline was surrounded by close family when she died, including her husband, daughter and her sister Vanessa, who became Ann Summers’s CEO last year and today described her sibling as ‘an absolute warrior’ having been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016 – the year she was handed a CBE.

Her famous father, the co-chairman of West Ham United, rose from abject East End poverty to a £500million fortune. 

He died after a short illness on January 4 aged 86. He handed Ann Summers and its four stores to Jacqueline in 1981 and today the brand has 80 stores and annual sales of £113.8million.

A statement from the Gold family said: ‘It is with unspeakable sadness that Ann Summers confirm our amazing executive chair Jacqueline Gold CBE passed away yesterday evening with her husband Dan, daughter Scarlett, sister Vanessa, and brother-in-law Nick, by her side’.

Jacqueline shared this picture of her with her father at the London Stadium after his death, calling him her ‘hero’

Jacqueline was last pictured laying flowers for her father in the East End of London on the day of her father’s funeral two months ago. She was heartbroken at this death and said at the time that the Gold family had lost ‘our hero’.

Jacqueline was made a CBE in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to entrepreneurship, women in business and social enterprise. 

In the same year she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which she credited with transforming her life because it forced her to enjoy things more.

She wrote last year: ‘It’s no secret I have been through a lot of tragedy in my life. Whilst I would prefer things to have been different, I cope by finding the opportunity in a bad situation. For example, if it wasn’t for my breast cancer diagnosis six years ago I wouldn’t be living my best life now. If you train your mind to find the positive in every event you will banish worry and feel empowered’.  

As well as battling breast cancer, she had also battled adversity to have children. After a failed marriage she met Dan Cunningham, a City broker 17 years her junior. 

They split in 2006 after three failed IVF attempts – but got back together and married in 2010.  In 2009 the couple lost their son Alfie at eight months.

The multi-millionaire businesswoman was told he had an abnormality that meant he would not survive childbirth.

But the little boy fought for eight months after birth but was never well enough to leave hospital. Alfie’s twin sister, Scarlett, survived and was her mother’s pride and joy.

Jacqueline Gold, then 49, and husband Dan Cunningham, then 33, with the couple’s then one-year-old daughter Scarlett on their wedding day at Oxfordshire’s Blenheim Palace in 2010

Jacqueline, left, who build Ann Summers into a huge brand, was described as a ‘warrior’ as she fought stage 4 cancer

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in 2018, Jacqueline said: ‘Alfie did survive the birth. He was crying when he was born but not as babies do – he was crying because he was in pain. No mother should have to go through that, to hear her child cry in pain.’

She added: ‘I desperately want my daughter to grow up believing she can be whatever she wants to be.’ 

Her father David said she and her sister Vanessa had transformed the brand. Two months ago he died with his daughters, Jacqueline and Vanessa, and his fiancée Lesley by his side. 

When David Gold bought Ann Summers with his brother Ralph in 1972, it had four stores.

The London-based company served as a standard sex shop under the ownership of its founder, Michael Caborn-Waterfield.

In 1981 Jacqueline was brought into the company. She quickly set about making her mark, introducing the ‘Party Plan’ concept.

This would see ‘parties’ held at the homes of customers, where women would be given presentations on sex toys and lingerie, as well as play party games. These proved extremely popular and a good way of getting around laws that prevented sex toys being put on public display.

Ann Summers now has 80 high street stores in Britain and Ireland, and in the years since has become synonymous with the sale of lingerie and adult toys.

Jacqueline’s sister Vanessa (left) with her father and sibling, said the family are heartbroken

Jacqueline, pictured in 2000, began as an intern at the company before becoming CEO. At one point she was sewing bras (pictured)

Jacqueline Gold being made a CBE by the Princess Royal during an Investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle in 2016

A family statement said today: ‘Jacqueline is best-known for founding Ann Summers and leading a business run by women, for women. She was also an activist for women in business, and championed female entrepreneurs with the ambition to better the working environment for women.

‘From an internship to Chief Executive Officer in less than 10 years, her determination and commitment to creating a unique retail offering led to the creation of a multi-channel retail chain, consisting of retail stores, direct sales ambassadors, and a fast growing online and third-party business. It is her vision and creativity that saw Ann Summers grow from an unknown brand to a British household name and stable of the British high street.

‘In recognition of Jacqueline’s significant achievements during her 40-year career, she was awarded a CBE in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to entrepreneurship, women in business and social enterprise.’

The family statement continued: ‘Jacqueline’s death comes just two months after the passing of her father, David Gold, the Joint-Chairman of West Ham United FC. The thoughts and sincere condolences of everyone at Ann Summers are with Jacqueline’s husband Dan, daughter Scarlett, and sister Vanessa at this extremely sad time.’

Ann Summers CEO and Jacqueline’s sister, Vanessa, said: ‘Jacqueline courageously battled stage 4 breast cancer for seven years and was an absolute warrior throughout her cancer journey. In life she was a trailblazer, a visionary, and the most incredible woman, all of which makes this news that much harder to bear. ‘As a family, we are utterly heartbroken at the loss of our wife, mum, sister, and best friend’.

Jacqueline Gold’s father David had one of Britain’s ultimate rag to riches stories.

David Gold and his younger brother Ralph, two years his junior, spoke fondly about their struggle to escape the appalling poverty and anti-Semitism into which they were born in the East End of London in the Thirties.

Mr Gold grew up across the road from West Ham’s Boleyn ground, and as a talented footballer himself, he had hoped that he would get to be a star there. 

His market trader father, Godfrey, was in and out of prison for theft, receiving stolen goods and driving a getaway car. 

He also had brushes with both the Krays and the Richardsons, the two gangster families who dominated east and south-east London in the 1950s and 1960s.

David and Ralph Gold bought Ann Summers and its four stores in 1972 (Marble Arch pictured).

Jacqueline helped transform the brand and build up 80 stores across the UK

Describing what first attracted him to supporting the club as a boy, Gold told the Independent: ‘I’m seven or eight, my father’s in prison, my mother’s a skivvy, I’m living in abject poverty, so this was a form of escapism.’ 

David and Ralph’s mother, Rose, a waitress, sold buttons and bric a brac from a stall in front of the house. 

Mr Gold would describe the trauma of seeing his mother spitting blood in bed as she had all her teeth pulled out aged just 30.

When Mrs Gold added a few pinup magazines to the table, the boys spotted an opportunity. 

They set up their own stall in the Sixties, selling sci-fi books and magazines near Charing Cross Station and discovered what customers really wanted was the soft porn magazines of the day.

The Gold soft porn empire flourished and the brothers bought their own shops in Soho, making their first big money in 1967 from the sale of two of the stores – bought for £20,000 each – for £3million.

In 1972 the brothers bought Ann Summers and their four stores, turning it into a huge business now run by Gold’s elder daughter, Jacqueline. In December 2007 David bought out Ralph.

The Gold brothers were a formidable partnership, with Ralph, a former British Army boxing champion, the chief negotiator and David in charge of strategy and organisation. 

Both, they later admitted, were desperate never to be poor again.

Before long, they had seven outlets and with demand for ‘glamour titles’ growing in the newly permissive age, the brothers decided to cut out the middle man and set up Gold Star Publications to publish their own magazines.

Such was the demand, GSP were soon supplying most stores in the UK and attracting the attention of Parliament and the police.

Around that time Gold caught his wife of approaching 20 years, Beryl, cheating on him with his best friend in his swimming pool. It was the same day he caught his own father stealing his shares.

He would tell that story often, calling it the day that changed his life, because it drove him to make his fortune. 

He would make £500million from property, retail, newspaper publishing, football and air travel – and would also find love with his fiancée Lesley.

The Gold soft porn stable, which was sold in 2006 in a management buy-out, included such titles as Raider, Teenage Hardcore, Hardcore Housewives and Derriere.

Mr Gold was unabashed. He claimed it is men who are degraded by pornography, not women, and added: ‘I’ve never published a product I am ashamed of – never, ever, ever.’  

David with his daughters Jacqueline (right) and sister Vanessa (left) in a photo shared on Instagram

In an interview at the time of the sale, he proclaimed: ‘I have never published or sold anything I think is wrong. I couldn’t live with myself if I was running a company selling cigarettes, I couldn’t live with myself if I was involved with drugs. I can’t bear the thought of causing pain and anguish to other people.’

The fact is that the adult magazine market collapsed thanks to the advent of internet porn.

The Golds, like many others, including their business partner David Sullivan, decided to sell their titles and move on to the more lucrative opportunities. 

The Gold brothers lurked just outside the top 100 of the Sunday Times Rich List  for a year – at one time having been one place above the Queen – and were worth a staggering £525million.

David lived in a £10million-plus mansion in 55 acres of Surrey countryside. 

He designed his own 18-hole golf course and has tennis courts and a swimming pool he rarely uses. 

The grounds also have a helipad for his Gazelle helicopter and a runway for his private 4-seater Cessna 182, both of which he pilots himself.

His Bentley bears the personalised number plate D GOLD and his cufflinks spell DG in diamonds.

His brother Ralph bought up the road, settling in his own multi-million-pound house with matching car and swimming pool. 

Gold had previously been the chairman of Birmingham City – buying it with Sullivan and his brother for £1 – before selling his shares in the club in 2009 for millions.

He became joint chairman of West Ham in January 2010 following a takeover of the club, which the Hammers said ‘helped to steady the ship and protect the club’s future during a period of great financial uncertainty’. 

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