Cancer-stricken British tech boss died aged 43 just months after he set up children’s charity

Cancer-stricken British tech boss died aged 43 just months after he set up children’s charity

The millionaire British tech tycoon behind Nutmeg who set up a children’s charity has sadly died aged 43 following his battle with terminal bone cancer, it emerged today.

Nick Hungerford had Ewing sarcoma – a rare type of cancer – with 30 tumors across his body, and had endured frequent chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

The married father-of-one, who was from the West Country but lived in Washington DC in the later stages of his life, set up the charity Elizabeth’s Smile in his daughter’s name to help bereaved children. He leaves behind his two-year-old daughter Elizabeth and his wife Nancy.

Announcing his death today, his charity said: ‘We are deeply saddened to share the news of Nick’s death. In loving memory of our founder, our work to make sure grieving children reach their full potential continues. Nick’s smile will inspire us, always.’

Nutmeg, the digital wealth management firm he co-founded, added: ‘It is with great sadness that we confirm today that Nick Hungerford, Nutmeg co-founder and one of Britain’s most successful fintech entrepreneurs, has passed away at the age of 43.

‘Nick was passionate about helping to empower people to achieve their full potential – through Nutmeg, he hoped to democratize wealth management and start a journey that would change the retail investment sector in the UK. It is our mission, at Nutmeg, to aim to deliver every day.

‘On behalf of all Nutmeg colleagues, past and present, we are incredibly proud of the journey Nick started, everything achieved so far and the opportunity we have to continue to help people manage their money in the future. Nick’s passion to empower people to achieve their full potential has also been realized through the charity he and his wife established following his terminal cancer diagnosis.’

Nick Hungerford, who leaves behind his two-year-old daughter Elizabeth and wife Nancy, co-founded digital wealth management firm Nutmeg

The businessman, who was from the West Country but lived in Washington DC in the later stages of his life, set up the charity Elizabeth's Smile in his daughter's name to help bereaved children

The businessman, who was from the West Country but lived in Washington DC in the later stages of his life, set up the charity Elizabeth’s Smile in his daughter’s name to help bereaved children

Announcing his death today, his charity said: 'We are deeply saddened to share the news of Nick's death'

Announcing his death today, his charity said: ‘We are deeply saddened to share the news of Nick’s death’

The company he set up, Nutmeg, added: 'On behalf of all Nutmeg colleagues, past and present, we are incredibly proud of the journey Nick started'

The company he set up, Nutmeg, added: ‘On behalf of all Nutmeg colleagues, past and present, we are incredibly proud of the journey Nick started’

Mr Hungerford – whose company was sold to JP Morgan for nearly £700million in June 2021 – said he wanted the charity to provide resources for youngsters in the form of grief guides developed by experts, and provide a secure online community.

He partnered in running the charity with his wife Nancy, a former news anchor, reporter and producer for CNBC International in Europe and Asia.

Charity: ‘We empower grieving children to build resilience’

This is taken from the ‘about us’ part of the Elizabeth’s Smile website:

In 2022, our founders, Nick and Nancy Hungerford, started Elizabeth’s Smile to help millions of children who will lose a parent to terminal illness, inspired by their daughter, Elizabeth.

We empower grieving children to build resilience and cope with their grief in healthy and meaningful ways. We work to ensure that our research and products are accessible to all who need them.

We exist to remind children they are not alone and that it is ok to be a child, to smile while one also grieves.

Elizabeth’s Smile is a charity that runs like an innovative start-up. Our two focuses as a charity are research and building scalable products.

In a heartbreaking interview with the Daily Telegraph last month, he said: ‘It’s not the pain or fear of death that worries me most, it’s leaving my wife and my toddler daughter. Elizabeth is just two-and-a-half, and she will have to grow up without me. She is already a true daddy’s girl – we share incredible hugs, she misses me when I’m at the hospital, and greets me with her toy stethoscope, saying how brave I am.

‘The thought of missing her first day of school, of not giving a speech at her wedding, buries me with emotion.’

Mr Hungerford added that Elizabeth is ‘too young to have active, internal memories of me’, but he has done everything possible ‘to show how much I love her’.

He said that he had written letters and messages to be given to her in the future and even used an artificial intelligence website to video himself answering hundreds of personal questions, so she could ‘talk’ to him online in the future.

His health battle began in December 2019 when he felt pain in his right thigh – and, after some ‘nasty-looking gunk’ was removed from his leg, he was still in intense pain a month later. Then, an X-ray showed a 5in (13cm) tumor in his femur. This was replaced with titanium, but by late 2021 the cancer had returned.

The University of Exeter graduate received treatment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in DC.

He said the idea for the charity came in January 2022 when he and his wife were both offered alternative therapies of massage and acupuncture and family therapy to help them deal with their situation. But he said ‘there was nothing available for children, despite research showing that children suffer greatly after losing a parent, and face many negative outcomes’.

Mr Hungerford added: ‘If I see a problem, I want to do something about it. Millions of children in the world are affected by parental death. I had to do something.’

Mr Hungerford, pictured at the Bloomberg Markets Most Influential Summit in London in 2016

Mr Hungerford, pictured at the Bloomberg Markets Most Influential Summit in London in 2016

Rare bone cancer that mainly affects children

Ewing sarcoma is a rare type of cancer that affects the bones or surrounding tissues.

It mainly affects children and young people, but is also seen in adults – and is more common in men than women.

Symptoms include bone pain; a tender lump or swelling; a consistently high temperature; feeling tired all the time; unintentional weight loss; and weaker bones that are more likely to break.

The legs – often around the knee – pelvis, arms, ribs and spine are the main areas affected by the condition.

The NHS describes the treatment as ‘complicated’ and says it normally involves a combination of radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery to remove the cancer.

In June 2021, Mr Hungerford’s firm Nutmeg was bought by JP Morgan in a move that saw the Wall Street bank wade into the UK savings market.

Nutmeg was only nine years old at the time, with Mr Hungerford and fellow tech entrepreneur William Todd earning several million pounds through the deal.

The firm, known as a ‘robo-adviser’, asks savers questions through its website or mobile phone app to judge their risk appetite. It then automatically invests their money into funds which track stock market indices like the FTSE 100. Because it relies on technology, and plows savers’ money into ‘tracker’ funds, its fees are much lower than those charged by traditional wealth managers. At the time of JP Morgan’s purchase, Nutmeg looked after more than £3.5 billion of savers’ money, and had more than 140,000 customers.

Tributes have poured in from those close to Mr Hungerford, writing on the Elizabeth’s Smile Website. One, called Sophie Adelman, said he had been a ‘friend and mentor’ to her for over a decade.

She wrote: ‘It was a huge honor to spend time with Nick and his family during his last few weeks celebrating the love so many people had and continue to have for him. I am so sad right now but I know Nick will live on in all our hearts. To Nancy, Elizabeth and Nick’s family – my deepest condolences. I am here for you all.’

Another called Ben Brabyn added: ‘Nick met his own illness with characteristic generosity and practicality, setting out to build a legacy that would help Elizabeth and many other children and families facing bereavement.

Mr Hungerford praised the work of the healthcare staff who had looked after him by posting a message of thanks on Facebook and giving them Elizabeth's Smile-branded scrubs

Mr Hungerford praised the work of the healthcare staff who had looked after him by posting a message of thanks on Facebook and giving them Elizabeth’s Smile-branded scrubs

‘In establishing Elizabeth’s Smile, he laid foundations on which we must build to ensure that every family can maintain and develop supportive relationships.’

And a third, Sri Jegarajah, said: ‘Nick personified sheer optimism and a dignified, quiet courage in the face of illness that recalled my late father who also fought bravely against terminal illness.

‘They’re kindred spirits, and wonderful, caring people. The values, compassion and goodness Nick embodied will live on in his legacy, and Elizabeth’s Smile.’

The Bone Cancer Research Trust is the leading UK charity dedicated to fighting primary bone cancer. If you would like more information about Ewing sarcoma, click here to visit their website. You can also access their free support and information service on 0800 111 4855 or by emailing [email protected]

Click here to find out more about Elizabeth’s Smile and donate if you wish

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