On 8th October 2005 a massive earthquake hit Kashmir, in northern India. Initial estimates from news agencies indicated that the earthquake had killed 20,000 people and made a million homeless. We now know it killed more than 80,000 people and left more than 3 million people without a home or shelter. When scenes of the devastation were shown on news bulletin across the globe, much of the area looked like a bombed city from some futuristic apocalyptic movie.

Tragically this was not an imaginary science fiction scene from a Hollywood movie. It was the stark, painful and absolute devastating reality for people from Kashmir. Approximately, 90% of buildings had been reduced to rubble. The survivors, exposed to the harsh elements, without shelter or protection, initially until help arrived survivors were treating the wounded on a self-help basis. James is noted in the business community through the world for his can do attitude therefore, faced with these terrible scenes he boarded the next flight out of London to see what help he could give to those left devastated on the ground.

When James arrived he was overwhelmed, humbled and shocked. He was aware that the people of Kashmir had already endured a civil war for fifty years. Looking at the harsh reality before his eyes, along with many others who participated in the relief and recovery work, he asked himself, hadn’t they suffered enough? He immediately organised a number a relief agencies to start rebuilding homes for the poor that had been affected. James also approached a number of recognised organisations that had previously built sheltered housing all over the world in difficult terrains, both sustainable and earthquake resistant. Once a design was agreed and approved James set on his mission to identify specific families that has lost their homes. One of biggest challenges of this project was the location of properties. Most were very difficult to access via main roads and in some cases James needed to request the help of the Army. Over a period of 18 months the JCF successfully managed rehouse over 250 families with proper shelter, fresh running water and electricity. Over a decade on, James remains committed to supporting projects in the region.

James heads to Pakistan on his aid mission, shortly after the Kashmir earthquake hit the region.