RIP John Murray, journalist and author (24.06.1947 to 14.07.2021)
He was a cheery man, always curious, often too totally absorbed in the pages of Mortgage Finance Gazette, which he edited for six years, to join in the daft editorial office mayhem. John was most often seen shuttling in and out, particularly around lunchtime, with commercial manager Mike Mortimore, sipping his Cappuccinos which left chocolate on his top lip, hunched over his desk or sharing the edition’s top news story with anyone in earshot.
He enjoyed a rage-fuelled rant after rudeness or an injustice and harboured magnificent grudges.
John was always generous in his praise of good journalism, found time for people and was consistently up for an inappropriate pint. He spoke often and lovingly about Pam his gorgeous wife who he always considered far ‘too good for him’ and his son Nick, daughter Natasha and grandson Thomas.
He had always fostered loftier ambitions, which he realised writing three novels, penning the one he appeared the most proud of, Elvis and the Virgin Mary in 2015.
More recently, John’s Facebook page was testament to the frequent walks he took in South London with his wife Pam and his love of wildlife photography. His passion for travel culminated in a Chimpanzee and Mountain gorilla tracking trip to Uganda just before his cancer diagnosis.
John was born in Kidderminster to an Austrian mother and an Irish father from County Mayo. He grew up in Shepherds Bush, was an ardent QPR fan and flitted between journalism and PR throughout his career which began in the 1960s with Sun Alliance and London Insurance Group. He moved into training at the Distributive Industry Training Board pioneering the use of video as a learning tool then on to the Building Societies Association (BSA) in 1982 to manage corporate communications and commercial activities.
He became editor of Mortgage Finance Gazette in 2000 at Charterhouse Communications, the place where so many of us started out and moved to Lending Strategy in 2006 where he reigned supreme until 2009 when the crash tumbled the standalone magazine but John stayed on as consulting editor.
John died at home in his own bed last week, after a brave battle with cancer.
In his own words, John said: “By accident rather than design I found myself as an expert in housing finance but at a strategic rather than an operational level.
“As a journalist I liked exploring new ideas and challenging old mantras, and this is exactly what I have continued to do in my books.”
The last time I saw John was two years ago, give or take, for another inappropriate pint in the Cittie of Yorke in Holborn. He lovingly re-told me the plot of Elvis and the Virgin Mary which I promised I’d read but never did. I looked the book up again on Amazon today which involves Elvis returning from the dead, a heroine committed by parents to a mental institution and a reality TV series which all climaxes in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Nice one John.
I’m going to have a pint, raise it to you and start reading tonight.
With thanks to Pamela Murray and family.
Buy the Kindle version of Elvis and the Virgin Mary here.
Magnificent sober SPF seven commit to dry quarter for cancer and children’s charities
Led by CEO Mark Harris, the other advisers who have been sober since the 1 January for charity include Marcus Hodges, Cristian Hintzpeter, Wendy Docherty, Nancy Maher-Brill, Holly Budd and Simon Dexter.
The two charities include Macmillan cancer support and the Princess Alexandra children’s hospital in Harlow.
The seven participants have signed up to a significant penalty scheme of £1,000 to each charity, or £5,000 for Mark Harris, if anyone tumbles off the wagon before 1 April.
Mark Harris, CEO at SPF Private Clients said: “If you’re ever going to do it, it’s now or never isn’t it?”
adding that he had total faith in the team’s honesty over lapses.
“Non-alcoholic gin and tonic and 0 pe rcent lager have been keeping the teams going so far although it’s been mint tea for me. But if you can’t trust a mortgage broker, who can you trust?”
To show support and boost the fundraising drive please donate to either of the charities via JustGiving.com here for Macmillan Cancer Support or here for the Princess Alexandra children’s hospital.
Broker firms donate laptops to local school
McGregor put out a tweet asking advice firms to help him with the donations in September and has since gathered 25 machines, 15 of which are brand new.
He said: “My girlfriend is a teacher at the school, and she came home one day almost in tears because none of the laptops worked and none of the kids could really learn anything.
“That’s how it started. I said let me go out to the market and see if I can get any laptops which will be almost brand new for some of these companies.”
At the start of the pandemic, Mesa Financial gave businesses free advice on how to acquire Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) funding. In turn, some of these businesses returned the favour and contributed to McGregor’s efforts.
McGregor said Mark Posniak, managing director of Octane Capital, and Rob Jupp, chief executive of Brightstar, were the latest people to offer help. They join the likes of Your Mortgage Decisions, which has made two donations and Mortgage Xpress.
Dominik Lipnicki, managing director of Your Mortgage Decisions, said: “We’re all aware of disadvantaged children who don’t have access to a computer at home to be able to study. We know that when schools reopen, those children will be even further back than before.
“The government has tried to help but I don’t think it’s been a 100 per cent job. When I saw the tweet, I spoke to our IT team and asked if they could dig out the laptops we’ve got that are spares and unused.”
“More firms can help because every school will have children that need this sort of help. Even many of us at home have a machine where we’ve upgraded without having disposed of the previous one.
“It’s not a big deal but it can have a great impact, not just now but even after the pandemic. Credit goes to James for setting it up, it’s a great idea,” he added.
Virtual BMAs 2020 names Challengers as charity partner
Challengers is a charity that gives disabled children and young people the opportunity to play, have fun, and make friends in a safe and supportive environment.
The charity says too many children with disabilities miss out on the chance to play, which is vital to their development, because of physical impairments, a lack of accessible play facilities or a lack of support.
Jennifer Corless, head of communications and events at Challengers, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that Challengers has been chosen as the charity partner for The Virtual British Mortgage Awards 2020.
“We are an independent charity providing disabled children and young people with fun and safe places where they can play and make friends, while also giving their families with a much-needed respite from care responsibilities.
“It’s wonderful to have the support of The Virtual British Mortgage Awards and its guests, especially in this difficult year, as your generous donations will help us to reach even more disabled children and their families.”
Text PLAY to 70490 to donate £10 to Challengers.
The Virtual British Mortgage Awards drinks reception begins at 3.45pm on 15 December, and the main event will be streaming live to your homes at 4pm.
Tickets are available to anyone in the mortgage industry, however, you have to pre-book your complimentary place in advance to guarantee a ticket.
The deadline to book your place is 12pm on Tuesday 15 December.
Book your ticket on the event website: https://www.mortgagesolutions.co.uk/events/british-mortgage-awards/venues/bma-online/
The Awards will feature live entertainment, advanced social media interactivity, and more.
Sports presenter Colin Murray is the guest announcer and will be interacting live with guests and highlighting the best social posts with #BMA2020.
There will be a photobooth, sponsored by HSBC UK, and a prize for Tweet of the Awards sponsored by Digital Mortgages.
Winners will be announced on the day and sent their trophies after the awards.
Mortgage Medics partners with homelessness charity Sussex Nightstop
The partnership will be for an initial period of two years, with an aim to support the charity’s goal to tackle homelessness in the region through regular funding.
The firm will also help to raise the profile of the work Nightstop does to its clients and the general public.
Sam Murphy (pictured), managing director of Mortgage Medics, said: “We’re thrilled to launch our partnership with Sussex Nightstop. They do such amazing work; helping young people and adults who are at risk of homelessness.
“Their efforts are focused on helping before people end up on the streets, which undoubtedly saves lives. We’re so proud to support their hardworking team of staff and volunteers.”
He added: “Our days are spent helping those fortunate enough to own property, so it was a natural fit to partner with Sussex Nightstop, to try and help people less fortunate with their housing needs.”
Alison Marino, manager of Sussex Nightstop, said: “The ability of Sussex Nightstop to make a positive difference to the lives of people who face homelessness and rough sleeping is only made possible through support from the local community. We are delighted that Mortgage Medics have chosen us as their charity partners and have no doubt as to the positive impact it will have.
“We know that Nightstop works but, crucially, we can’t do it alone. Knowing that we have Mortgage Medics and their customers proactively championing and supporting us in our objectives is what makes it possible.”
Mortgage industry NHS fundraiser launched
The online poker tournament which has been organised by packager Brilliant Solutions is free to play, with no money bet or gambled, and aims to bring the industry together, although donations can be made without playing.
All funds are collected through a voluntary donation via the company’s Just Giving page which has been setup to donate to NHS Charities Together.
“Players participate for fun and industry pride, as well as the chance to win what will surely be the coveted winner’s trophy,” the packager said.
The event will kick off in May and registrations are open until the end of April with almost 100 people signed up for the tournament and more than £600 raised after only a few days.
Come together as an industry
Brilliant Solutions managing director Matthew Arena said the firm was keen to emphasise this was purely for fun and fund raising, with no gambling activity.
“We hope that players will be generous and together, as an industry, we can raise a significant sum for the NHS,” he said.
“No doubt it will help some people who are bored of watching TV all evening too. We wanted to ensure that players of any ability can participate and this setup has achieved that.”
Sales director Michael Craig added: “Removing the association with gambling was crucial for us and it took a while to find an appropriate setup to do this but I am pleased to say we have managed it.
“The company has planned an industry wide fund raiser for some time and we did not want to let Covid-19 stop us this year when it is clear that these efforts are more important than ever.
“We are gaining momentum with this quickly so it is proving popular already.”
Donations can be made on the Just Giving page and details on how to register for the event and participate can be found on the firm’s website or by contacting Michael Craig on Michael@brilliantsolutions.co.uk.
The tournament is open to anybody with any connection to the mortgage industry whatsoever and sharing the details is being encouraged.
Child-friendly resources for mortgage broker parents
The list, which has more than 75 recommendations of education, entertainment and fitness activities, was originally put together for its intranet site.
However, managing director Matthew Arena felt it might be welcomed by the wider specialist lending industry during the unprecedented situation.
Arena told Specialist Lending Solutions: “We have created an internal log of all of the resources that people within the business have been recommending.
“There are more than 75 recommendations to educate and entertain children. Today we made that site available externally to anybody and everybody.
“We’d love to support as many brokers as possible, as many people in this industry as possible and frankly, anybody at all,” he added.
The site can be found at: https://sites.google.com/brilliantsolutions.co.uk/ideas-for-children
Please use the comments section to share any other suitable resources to help keep children active and entertained during the current period.
Mortgage broker donating 10 per cent of proc fees to NHS
The donation to the NHS is to help healthcare professionals cope with the Covid-19 outbreak and thank them for looking after the community.
Furthermore, the brokerage is offering the waived fees to clients who are making new mortgage applications or remortgaging to lessen any financial difficulties borrowers may face.
Our Mortgage Broker said it made this commitment because everyone is “directly or indirectly affected by Covid–19”.
Akhil Mair (pictured), managing director of Our Mortgage Broker, said: “It’s just our way of giving back. We are all going through this together and the NHS is looking after all of us through this.
“When we meet hard times, it’s key we all rally together and support one another.”
Mortgage Sleep Out returns for 2020
In November of that year, more than 500 people in the mortgage industry raised more than £110,000 for the charity End Youth Homelessness (EYH) by sleeping out across the UK.
Maria Harris, then-director of retail mortgages at Atom Bank, and Rob Jupp, CEO of Brightstar, set up Mortgage Sleep Out after Jupp tweeted about homelessness and Harris replied calling for an event to raise awareness.
Jupp’s tweet prompted other members of the mortgage industry to voice their interest in supporting the initiative.
With 25 events spread across 20 different UK regions and 40 different companies taking part, #mortgagesleepout made it into the top 10 UK Twitter trends with 1.5 million impressions on 30 November – the day that most sleep out events took place.
Prominent figures from across the industry also released the single ‘Take Me Home’, which was performed under the name MIC (Mortgage Industry Collective).
Details about the 2020 Mortgage Sleep Out will be announced on 20 March, along with information about some of the projects that benefitted from the funds raised in 2018.
The organisers said the goal for this year’s event was to involve more people, raise more money and have a greater impact.
Rob Jupp, CEO at Brightstar said: “Everyone who took part in Mortgage Sleep Out in 2018 made a tangible difference to the lives of young people who are struggling to find their feet.
“This year we want to get more people involved so that we can help more people. As an industry, it is in our power to make this a very significant event and raise a lot of money for those less fortunate than ourselves.”
Nick Connolly, managing director at End Youth Homelessness, added: “I’m so excited that Mortgage Sleep Out is returning in 2020 and promises to be even bigger and better. The 2018 event raised a phenomenal amount of money that was put to good use to help homeless young people across the country. Just imagine what we can achieve this year.”
Virgin Money selects 10 brokers to run London Marathon
The intermediaries have each secured a free place in the 40th marathon event, which takes place on 26 April 2020. More than 450,000 people applied for a place through the public ballot which closed in May last year.
The winning brokers were chosen at random after marathon sponsors Virgin Money ran its annual competition among its intermediary partners to win one of the free places.
The brokers will be running for charities including Mencap, who are Virgin Money’s Charity of the Year.
The winning brokers are Sam Brown of MAB Gloucester, Ertash Ali of Vincent Burch, Rachael Bolam of 313 Financial and Nazajat Ali of Mortgage On. Other broker participants include Paul Slater of Positive Solutions, Kevin Brooks of Direct Link Funding, Steve Watkins of Henry Clifton and Anthony McGoldrick of Mortgage Wise Scotland.
Advisers Luke Voce-Russell of Richard Bamber and Nicola Stone of Clear View Mortgages are also among those who won a place in the marathon. It will be the first time Ali, Bolam and Brown have taken part in a marathon.
Bolam said: “I’m over the moon to get a place, but also terrified. I knew I wouldn’t push myself though if I didn’t put myself out there, so this will give me the focus I need.”
Nazajat added: “You cannot imagine the level of my excitement when I got the news of getting a place for the London Marathon. It feels like I am flying sky high.”
Former member of the Parachute Regiment Paul Slater will be raising money for ‘Support Our Paras’. Despite a knee injury, Slater plans to carry 100lbs of kit including a five-foot long mortar barrel attached to a flag during the marathon.
Sarah Green (pictured), Virgin Money’s head of intermediaries, said: “We are delighted to offer 10 places to our intermediary partners at what is a very special event. This is the fourth year we’ve done this and this is the most number of place we’ve ever offered.
“All of us at Virgin Money wish the runners all the very best with their training and we will be there to cheer them along on the day itself.”