Gospatric ‘Gos’ Home, who died on Easter Saturday (11 April 2020) aged 87, will be best remembered for creating and developing the Christian Resources Exhibition which, under his direction, became the largest annual show of church-based resources in Europe.
The son of a renowned author and artist, Gos undertook his national service as an officer in the Royal Fusiliers, City of London Regiment, which included fighting in Korea. He studied modern history at Pembroke College, Oxford, before embarking on a distinguished career in commercial publishing and exhibition management. By the 1970s, he was IPC’s international director before becoming managing director of Argus Press’ exhibitions companies.
In 1979, he spoke of his and his wife, Diana’s turn from ‘passive church goers to pro-active Christians’ at a Marriage Encounter weekend in South Wales, following the birth of the final of their three children. So it was that a few years later, recovering from a hip replacement operation in 1984, he heard someone say ‘pick up and read’ – the same words given to St Augustine. But where Augustine picked up the Bible, Gos took hold of the UK Christian Handbook!
‘It wasn’t the voice of God but Ernie Barnett, owner of a chain of St Andrew’s Christian bookshops!’ he recalled. ‘Laid up for days on end, Ernie suggested I read the UK Christian Handbook. I did – from cover to cover.’ Its 5,000 entries spanned publishers, charities, architects, missions, newspapers, magazines, bookshops and much more. Gos had already been prompted to run an exhibition for church leaders and officers by his wife, Diana, who believed her husband’s experience in the secular exhibition world was preparing him for what would become CRE.
He took the plunge and the first exhibition, held at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London in 1984, featuring some 120 organisations, was attended by 8,200 church leaders, including Archbishop Robert Runcie, Cardinal Hume and church members from all over the country. Revd Richard Chartres was chaplain at the first exhibition.
A truly ecumenical event, successive exhibitions were attended and opened by luminaries that included several more archbishops, among them Desmond Tutu, Princess Anne and celebrities such as Sir Cliff Richard, Roy Castle and, more recently, actress Sally Phillips. He started several other exhibitions in this period including the Education Show, the Natural Stone Show and the Library and Information Show. Still devoted to his first creation, even in his late 80s, he attended National CRE as honorary president in October 2019 at Sandown Park in Surrey.
His greatest achievement, however, is largely unknown to most people. In 1963, aged 30, and with initial capital of £64, he founded Quadrant, a not-for-profit housing association, in partnership with Revd Nick Stacey, Rector of Woolwich. The two men sought to understand the difficulties of London’s poor and homeless by visiting them in person. On one such visit, to a homeless hostel that smelled ‘like cabbages and stale urine’, a mother showed them the basement where her children slept. Her four-year-old daughter had suffered a rat bite to her cheek. This was the other side of London in the ‘swinging 60s’.
‘We didn’t have any qualifications in housing management,’ recalled Gos. ‘This meant we weren’t stuck in our ways. We were more adventurous. We did everything ourselves in our spare time.’ Now called London & Quadrant, the association currently holds a £34 billion property portfolio and houses hundreds of thousands of Londoners in some 110,000 homes, with 100,000 more in the pipeline, including Barking Riverside, an enormous brownfield site on the River Thames. He was involved on the L&Q board until 2000.
‘Our business model was, and remains committed to both social and commercial principles,’ said L&Q’s CEO David Montague, who worked alongside the two late founders for many years. ‘It really is an extraordinary story.’
Over the years, Gos also played an active role in his local church, St Mary’s, Princes Risborough, where he chaired the committee to develop the church, and was chair of governors at the local CE primary school. In retirement, he pursued his love of family, place and history and chaired the committee forming Britain’s first museum about the history of the Huguenots in Rochester and in various roles related to his Scottish Clan Home.
Those who knew him well describe Gos as having the heart of a lion and the tenacity of a terrier. Above all, he was a gentleman, a man of his word, unassuming and modest, one of the ‘old school’. Devoted to his family, he was at his happiest at home in the Chilterns where he lived for nearly 43 years – surrounded by Diana, his son, two daughters and grandchildren.
In thousands of homes and churches throughout the UK, many people are, unknowingly, benefitting from one man’s passion and determination to make a genuine difference.
Gospatric David Laurens Reston Home
21 February 1933 – 11 April 2020