Reverend Gordon Moody

Published: Monday, 30 September 2013 by Elaine Smethurst

December 2012 was 100th anniversary of the birth of Gordon Moody, our eponymous founder, who was born on Wednesday 5th December 1912. One of the UK's early social entrepreneurs the Reverend Gordon E. Moody, M.B.E., was a Methodist minister who devoted much of his life to the plight of problem gamblers. His first involvement in the subject was in 1958 when he became Secretary of the British Churches' Council on Gambling where he worked for 20 years and he exerted a strong influence on the shaping of the 1968 Gaming Act. He helped to introduce Gamblers Anonymous to the UK in 1964 (which had first begun in Los Angeles in 1957) and was Honorary Founder-Patron of Gamblers Anonymous until his death in 1994. He was also made an Honorary Life Member of the Society for the Study of Gambling.

The present day Gordon Moody Association was founded as Gordon House in 1971 as a hostel for single, homeless compulsive gamblers. Reverend Moody knew that for many people who had ended up without a roof or a job or a family the first thing necessary to help them on the road to recovery was to offer them somewhere safe and warm to stay. The first Gordon House treatment programme lasted 9 months and some of the residents who have since become volunteers, staff and supporters continue to be thankful that they had the time to turn their lives round. Today our residential treatment is much shorter at 12 weeks, plus a two week residential assessment, making 14 weeks in all and whilst the Gordon Moody Association continues to help people who are homeless as well as those who are unemployed we also support problem gamblers who are still managing to hold down their jobs and some who will have a home to go back to once they have overcome their addiction.

I joined the charity in 2011 and as the relatively new Managing Director I didn't have the opportunity to meet our founder but I have seen an old Panorama programme from the 70's which features him and have spoken to staff and trustees who knew him and I know that his attitude is still the one which informs our activities today. I quote from his obituary in the Independent: - "Moody set himself to learn what gambling was all about - going to the dogs, talking to street bookies, enjoying the Derby. He thus made his first important discovery about gambling: it was not a vice, it was not a crime, it was not a reflection of some psychological disorder. People gambled because they enjoyed it.

It was fun." Of course the downside of gambling as a pastime is that for some it can become an all consuming compulsion which destroys lives and causes family breakdown and can lead to debt, poverty, homelessness and criminality. Like many activists, visionaries and founders he had clear beliefs and determination to succeed in meeting the needs of the people he set out to help. He was passionate and pragmatic in equal measure. The work that we do is needed just as much today as when Reverend Gordon Moody first took action over 40 years ago and there are a great many people who have good reasons for celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth. Long may his memory live on.

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