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Liberation 75 - The Alex Picot Trust story

Friday 08 May 2020

Alex Picot Trust has been a part of the Jersey community for over 135 years and our rich local heritage is something we are extremely proud of to this day. 

During the German occupation of Jersey during World War II, never one to accept defeat, Alex Picot decided to brave it out and keep the firm afloat. 

This was a courageous undertaking, given the uncertainty of business, money, and life in general under the circumstances.



Here is the story of how one man's brave decision ensured the future of Alex Picot Trust:

 


In June 1940 the occupation of Jersey by German forces threw the Island and its way of life off-balance, causing many local companies to cease trading, including one of Alex Picot's largest clients at the time, the Ann Street Brewery.

Alex Picot addressed his employees about the looming threat, giving everybody their wages and imploring them to “do what you think best.”

The following morning, Alex and his loyal assistant Lilian du Feu were the only ones remaining. Alex’s sons Leslie and Donald took the decision to travel to the UK.

During the Occupation, curfews were introduced, and novelties such as spirits and wireless radio banned. Farmers and fishermen were kept under watch, and their harvests controlled by German troops. The only part of Britain ever to be occupied by the Germans, the Channel Islands were a dangerous and difficult place to be during WWII.

Alex and Lilian tried to make the best of things, and looked to take on a couple of employees who could help them keep everything on track.

A young man named Norman Perchard – who later became company secretary to Le Riches – was brought on board immediately upon leaving school. He showed promise, but was forced to return abruptly to his family’s farm when his father was incarcerated for being rude to the invading troops.

While making efforts to keep the Picot firm alive, Alex and Lilian were also busy trying to make some improvements. With the assistance of Mr Hedley Luce, local insurance policyholders were maintained, and premiums collected, resulting in a sizeable insurance pool ready to be turned over to the appropriate insurance companies. Not only did this help to preserve a feeling of normality on the Island, but it also enhanced the firm’s reputation for trust and reliability.

Their hard work was met with queues of very grateful UK insurance company representatives after the Liberation, cementing Alex Picot as an unshakable firm.

The Liberation of 1945 brought a very welcome end to the Island’s occupation, and set in motion the healing process of Jersey, and of the Picot firm.

Some familiar faces were happy to return home, and Donald and Leslie came back to their father’s firm to resume their positions. Sam Seymour went to Guernsey to oversee the practice of our office there, and later Fred Olliver would return to the beloved firm.

The strong foundation that Alex and Lilian had maintained in the others’ absence offered a stable platform for a new incarnation to form from, and upon Alex’s death in 1948, Leslie and Donald took over the firm as Alex Picot.

In more recent years, the firm continued on as a very family-oriented business, with even more Picots being inducted into the practice.

END