Tributes paid to 'linchpin' of Sheffield greyhound racing
A ‘larger than life’ character described as the ‘linchpin’ of greyhound racing in Sheffield has died, aged 81.
Jon Carter, who passed away on Wednesday morning, was involved at Owlerton Stadium in Hillsborough for more than half a century, holding various roles including marketing director during his long association with the venue.
He was also instrumental in caring for the dogs once their racing days were done, setting up and acting as chairman of the Sheffield branch of the Greyhound Trust, which has found loving homes for thousands of retired dogs.
Dave Perry, director of the venue, which is also known as Sheffield Sports Stadium, said: “Jon celebrated a 50 year association at the stadium In 2013 and has held various roles from owner director to marketing director, as well as being chairman of the retired greyhound trust – he was the linchpin of the business for a number of years.
“Jon was my mentor. I have known him for 25 years and at Sheffield he was just always known as ‘the old boy’. He lived life to the full and treated every year as a bonus; nobody else in his family had lived beyond 65.
“Without Jon’s intervention after Hillsborough, when the local council closed down the track, Sheffield wouldn’t be here today. He was also responsible for Nottingham having a greyhound track and, of course, his legacy is our home-finding kennel.
“As a person, Jon was so interesting and engaging. He would be the sort of person you would want at any dinner party to keep all the other guests entertained. He was thought of fondly by everyone at Sheffield. Such lovely memories of a great man and personal friend.
“He truly was ‘Mr Sheffield’ – something that is now being portrayed in the glowing tributes from all the people that have known him throughout their careers.”
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Roy Cattlin, who runs the Sheffield branch of the Greyhound Trust with his wife Lynda, said: "Jon was a fabulous guy and a proper showman, who was the face of the stadium and once met was never forgotten.
"He really lived life to the full and he was a great friend, for whom nothing was too much trouble.”
Jon was born in Sheffield and worked in the beer industry for much of his life, spending nearly a decade in the Bahamas working for Canadian Breweries.
He became involved in greyhound racing through his father and grandfather, who introduced the activity at what was then the city's speedway stadium in the 1930s.
He was always passionate about the dogs’ welfare, according to those who knew him, and set up the Sheffield branch of the Greyhound Trust about 20 years ago to ensure they enjoyed a happy retirement.
John Leigh, who met Jon through the events he hosted at the stadium for clients of his company IFM Insurance, told how it had been an honour to know him.
“He was truly a larger than life character with so many amazing stories to tell, and he certainly lived a full life," he said.
“He was a colourful, warm gentleman, and a traditional old school player, who was always great fun to be around. He could really entertain a crowd and he will be sadly missed.”