Gerry Montgomery, one of Sheffield’s sporting pioneers has sadly passed away after a short battle with cancer.
Rochdillian born, Gerry developed a panache for the leisure industry. Working from the ground up, he developed a specialism in leisure pool technology and spent time in running facilities in numerous authorities, including Nottingham, Leicester and Coventry, but made his mark whilst serving as Senior Assistant Director in Sheffield between 1979 – 1989.
At the age of 35, Gerry became the youngest ever President of the Institute of Sports and Recreation Management (ISRM) having helped pioneer and established professional qualifications and kite marks for the evolving leisure industry. He taught on many of the courses the industry body established and many of the modern leisure professionals evolved from his teachings.
In the mid-80s, Gerry became part of a team of officers and politicians that built the case for regenerating Sheffield through sport and leisure and embarked upon bringing the World University Games to Sheffield and the region. Before the days of lottery funding, and having secured the Games, the City embarked upon the largest recreational build programme of the century, including the first 50m pool for 50 years and the first modern arena outside of London. These pioneering visions, of which Gerry was a driver, has created Sheffield into one of the leading sporting cities in the UK. His work also involved the creation of the country’s first Sports Development Team that helped encourage participation and the growth of many sporting clubs including the Sheffield Eagles Rugby League Club and the Sheffield Sharks Basketball Club.
Leaving the Council in 1989, Gerry set up his own business to address the competitive tendering process linked with the outsourcing of leisure operations and facility management.
But he was immediately persuaded to be the Director of Operations and Sport for the 1991 World University Games in Sheffield.
Deemed a huge technical success, the Games sports footprint was used as the blue print for future World University Games. He was then contracted, through his company Montgomery Leisure Services, to stage the country’s first European Swimming and Diving Championships for some 50 years, with Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, Sheffield providing the hub.
The live BBC event was hailed a success and Gerry moved his attentions to organising other major events.
In 1997, Sheffield having failed to bid for the Commonwealth Games, Manchester came knocking and he was appointed the Director of Sport for the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Post the Commonwealth Games Gerry remained as a consultant with MLS until 2010. Even in his retirement, Gerry supported his colleagues in the business and was appointed a Life Vice-President of the Sheffield Sharks Basketball Club.
Throughout his career, the man was gregarious, firm but fair, inclusive, passionate and often challenging. He would spend many hours working across national and international sporting agencies and sports federations, including the development of national multi-million pound schemes such as the lottery funded Outdoor Basketball Initiative and the Inclusive Fitness Initiative.
Gerry is survived by his children Nick, David, Brian and Sarah, and many grand and great grandchildren.
Sometimes it is the off-court unsung heroes who leave the biggest footprints of influence and Gerry was one of those wonderful pioneers that helped create the path for some of Sheffield’s finest sporting facilities that provided the spring board for so many sporting successes – condolences to Gerry’s family and friends from all at the BBL.