Christopher John Neal (1958-2019)

Chris was a Founder Director of GSA Global. He passed suddenly but peacefully in September 2019 just as the business was embarking on an amazing journey. He was a truly a wonderful man with a mischievous sense of humour, boundless enthusiasm and a real ‘entrepreneurial spirit’.

It was at a meeting in the George Pub in Oxted, Surrey in March 2018 that Chris offered to help co-founder Bob Quick to launch a business dedicated to making travel safer. At the core was the idea of a fully independent accreditation for hotel security and safety, so that travellers could be assured that they were in safe hands when away from home. Chris mobilised his investor network and the rest is history.

In the intervening years GSA Global grew to employ over 400 former police and military security professionals and many other talented people. Covid forced the company to diversify successfully into many new areas, including supporting UK Government in key areas of safety and security and managing the reception of 18,000 desperate and traumatised refugees following their emergency evacuation from Afghanistan to the UK. In 2021, Chris was a determined advocate for driving innovations that could help society. As founder of GB Job Clubs, he helped members build the self-esteem and optimism key for job seeking and offered support to job seekers across the UK. Job Clubs subsequently joined award winning debt advice charity Christians Against Poverty offering support to the most disadvantaged in our communities.

Chris had enjoyed a successful career in the City’s financial sector in London for many years, living life in the fast lane! However, from 1998 onwards Chris became involved in a number of SME ventures, either as an active investor or consultant, also undertaking selective Non-Executive Director appointments.

He had also worked on the establishment of a not-for-profit fund to provide 100% low interest mortgages to young first-time buyers with the interest received then going to pay for social care for the elderly. At the time of his passing, he was working on a novel idea to use social care funding in new ways to support the elderly by linking them with local families funded to provide support.

Chris was an accomplished rugby union club player for Harlequins, Bath, Askeans, and his much-loved school alumni team, Trinity School, Croydon. In 1990, Chris played a charity rugby match with a team of ex England rugby veterans in Brussels, in aid of Romanian orphans after the collapse of communism revealed the horrific state of the orphan institutions.

He was a keen long-distance indoor rower, regularly competing on an international basis. He was also an aspiring Ocean Rower, with longer terms plans to enter the transatlantic single-handed competition to raise further funds for charity.

Chris would have been very proud of GSA Global’s achievements and of the people in the company. We have tried to embody his generosity, compassion and above all ‘entrepreneurial spirit’.

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