A Profile of Homerton’s new Head Porter

Photo: Gordon Murray outside the Great Hall, Homerton College.

In January Homerton’s Head Porter Chris Stanton retired after 16 years’ service, and after an exhaustive search, the College found a worthy replacement in Gordon Murray. Serving for 31 years in the military and police, he has lived a life touched by many events of national significance.

Born in 1965 in Edinburgh, “another relatively tranquil student city”, Gordon spent much of his childhood abroad, in places as diverse as Gibraltar, Malta, and Bahrain; as part of his father’s work for the Civil Service. Gordon too quickly dived into public service after his Scottish Highers, initially training to serve with the Royal Marines then joining the Household Cavalry, where he served in the Life Guards - the senior regiment in the British Army - for three and a half years. During that time he undertook numerous ceremonial duties at home and abroad, including Trooping the Colour and forming party of the Bridal Escort to Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Sarah, Duchess of York, at their wedding in 1986.

“I’ve always been a people person and loyal to the institution I work for, and I hope that this comes out in my new role”, says Gordon. “I think a Head Porter should always remember that we work in partnership with a community of students, staff, and Fellows, and it’s important they continue to see the Lodge as open and approachable. It’s about finding the perfect balance between talking and listening.”

Forging a close relationship with the public has been a constant thread in Gordon’s life. In 1987 Gordon joined the City of London Police, where he served for six years in various roles, first as a patrol officer and later as a tactical firearms officer. He was present at some of the capital’s most tragic incidents, including the King’s Cross fire, the Marchioness disaster, a bombing by the IRA, and the Cannon Street station rail crash. “It’s a privilege to serve in those situations, when you are able to give someone the best possible care in the most terrible of circumstances.”

It was at this time that he met his future wife, Alison, a nurse at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. Not long afterwards, they got married and moved to Cambridgeshire – Gordon transferring to Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Alison studying midwifery. In addition to patrol work, he is proud to have served as a hostage negotiator and in the Armed Response unit. In the early 1990s, Gordon was assigned the role of Close Protection Officer to the then Prime Minister John Major, accompanying him on events in his constituency of Huntingdon and getting to know him and the family well. In a neat twist of fortune, it was at this time that Alison studied at Homerton, bringing Gordon to the “beautiful” College for the first time. He and Alison now have two children – a son and a daughter – and two dogs, an American Cocker Spaniel and a Flat-Coated Retriever. This year marks their twenty-fourth living in Cambridgeshire.

“It’s a privilege to now be part of a University as renowned as Cambridge”, he says, “and every day this month I’ve been waking up and thinking how lucky I am to have such a great job. I’m excited to meet old and new students, who – refreshingly – are always looking forward. I’ve always tried to do that myself.”

Outside of work, Gordon is a keen cyclist, also enjoying badminton, swimming, and golf. Gardening in another one of his passions, “although”, he remarks wryly, “I doubt the Head Gardener would let me anywhere near his flowerbeds!”