Gerry Montgomery: Farewell to Sheffield sporting chief who led global games
A sporting boss who oversaw the World Student Games in Sheffield and went on to help lead the Commonwealth Games has died aged 76.
Gerry Montgomery was part of a team of council officers and politicians that made the case for regenerating Sheffield through sport, which led to the creation of new facilities like Ponds Forge and paved the way for the Olympic Legacy Park today.
Born in Rochdale, Gerry developed a panache for the leisure industry. Working from the ground up, he developed a specialism in leisure pool technology and spent time running facilities in numerous authorities, including Nottingham, Leicester and Coventry, but made his mark while serving as senior assistant director in Sheffield between 1979 and 1989.
Aged 35, Gerry became the youngest ever president of the Institute of Sports and Recreation Management, teaching on many of the courses the industry body established.
In the mid-1980s, Gerry and others embarked upon bringing the World Student Games to Sheffield and the region. Before the days of lottery funding, and having secured the games, the city built the first 50-metre pool for 50 years and the first modern arena outside of London. Gerry, who set up his own business in 1989, was persuaded to be the director of operations and sport for the 1991 competition.
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 and the Sheffield Sharks.
Gerry was later 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 as the hub.
The live BBC event was hailed a success and Gerry moved his attentions to organising other major events.
He was subsequently appointed director of sport for the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. Gerry remained as a consultant with MLS until 2010.
In his retirement, he was appointed a life vice-president of the Sheffield Sharks.
Described by friends as ‘gregarious, firm but fair, inclusive, passionate and often challenging’, Gerry died on Tuesday following a short battle with cancer, having only recently lost his lifelong partner Radmila.
He is survived by his children Nick, David, Brian and Sarah, as well as many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.