08 Nov 2022
Ben Clay was a much loved and highly regarded member of our housing family, who we sadly lost in March 2022. Those who loved, knew, and worked with Ben are still coming to terms with the loss of one of our brightest shining stars but are delighted to be able to recognise his contribution through this award in his memory.
From his early days as a graduate trainee though to his time as development director, Ben created and delivered ground-breaking housing schemes that genuinely changed the face of parts of Liverpool and were copied across the country. In 2014 he set up Clay and Co. which went on to become a highly regarded and well respected ‘go-to’ housing consultancy business. He worked alongside what was then the Homes and Communities Agency (now Homes England) to innovate once again and developed a new Rent to Buy product that was launched in 2014 and which many of us are delivering now.
Ben saw things that other people didn’t see and was always blazing a trail especially with new business opportunities. There were lots of awards and more importantly, thousands of affordable homes were built that changed so many lives. And so much of this was because of Ben. He made it look easy but underneath was a talent and grasp of all things housing that underpinned everything he did. Words such as inspirational, figurehead, ground-breaking, funny, empowering, compassionate, are just some of the qualities that people use to describe Ben. He had a humility that was so rare; he lifted people, empowered them, and made them feel good. Everyone wanted to work with Ben and many people have him to thank for success in their own careers as he freely gave his time to support and mentor others.
Ben’s talents and influence was extensive; he was a board member of Steve Biko Housing Association, as well as Baltic Creative and he worked with several sector bodies to share good practice and support delivery of new homes including the Chartered Institute of Housing, National Sales Group and the National Housing Federation.
Ben was driven and tenacious, creative and ahead of the curve. He had clarity of vision and could join up the dots to forecast trends and make things happen. He was principled and worked with integrity. Even during his illness he was having conversations and with those caring for him, giving him real time insight into the housing crisis and the struggles people have understanding their options; Ben being Ben wasn’t short of advice for them; he had a genuine passion for housing and always wanted to help people. Ben believed in everyone and made the world a better place.
Helen Reddington is the director of home ownership at Riverside Housing Group.