FIRST of all, I must declare an interest – Sir Gary Verity has been a close friend for 15 years and I got him the job as CEO of the Yorkshire Tourist Board (one of his many brilliant ideas was to change the name to Welcome to Yorkshire).
That makes me qualified, I hope, to share with your readers some important realities behind the sad news about his resignation (The Yorkshire Post, March 23).
Gary Verity is one of the brightest, most dynamic and innovative business people I know (and I have had the privilege to recruit many hundreds of main board directors at the very highest level across the UK over the last two decades).
In early 2008 I promised Gary’s wife Helen that I’d find him a job back in Yorkshire (from London) so that he’d be on the doorstep to look after their young daughter Lily when Helen died. Helen passed away the following year, aged 42, after a long and brave battle against cancer. I’m just so sorry that she didn’t live to see Gary’s huge achievements for our county, but at least she knew he was back home with a job he was relishing.
Gary took a massive pay cut to take up the job. He’d previously been running Johnsons Cleaners and Kall Kwik/Prontaprint and would today, I believe, be CEO of a significant Plc (earning many times more salary) had he not decided to make an enormous financial sacrifice to take up the challenge of putting his beloved county on the world stage – something he promised from day one and has achieved in spades (which I’m sure no one would argue with).
Beating several major European cities and (the Government’s preferred choice of) Scotland to host one of the world’s greatest sporting events, the Tour de France, still beggars belief. No civil servant would had the vision, audacity or ability to achieve that. It took Gary’s incredible powers of charm and persuasion to convince Christian Prudhomme and his French masters to take a huge leap of faith and risk their reputations to host the Tour here. Not content with merely that, Gary went on to sprinkle his magic dust and deliver, in Christian’s words, the “grandest of Grand Départs”.
With great genius usually comes fundamental flaws (Churchill is one example) and Gary is far from perfect. For the last couple of years I’ve been trying to persuade him to move on (as every talented CEO should) and get out at the top – but his dogged determination to finish the job (delivering the UCI I suspect) led him into his eleventh year at the helm.
It is so very sad to see it end like this, not least as Gary has endured great personal sadness behind the scenes of his tenure at Welcome to Yorkshire. Aside from losing Helen, he lost his wonderful father Geoff (with whom he used to attend every home game at Elland Road) and this year, his only sibling – younger sister Lindsay. His mother Jean is currently not at all well. Gary has also had serious ill health issues in recent times and continues to be a single parent. Tough by anyone’s standards.
Gary does need time to “heal” (his words) and I hope the press and public will allow him to do that in peace. One thing is absolutely certain – after this important period of peace and reflection, Sir Gary will be back – bigger and better than ever before. He’s a fighter and will forever be a genius. Yorkshire’s loss will be someone else’s great gain. Let’s hope it’s not Lancashire.
Please let us remember Gary for the legacy of his huge achievements (and, as he always says, of the team he led), not the magnitude of his (heavily underpaid) salary or some expenses misjudgements. He will remain the least expensive advertisement this county has ever had. He is a Boycott, Bird and Trueman of the business world.
Rail plan no real link at all
From: Shaun Kavanagh, Leeds.
THOUSANDS across Yorkshire undoubtedly feel the so called rail link to Leeds Bradford Airport is not really a link at all.
The Leeds City Council leader, Judith Blake, and others, do not appear to be listening to readers, ratepayers and experts.
They appear to reside in a place called “Disillusioned”, as they are the only people who do not accept the forthcoming costly scheme will be a failure in the eyes of thousands and, most probably, will be little used.
Liz Truss MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has warned that too much public money was being spent – i.e. wasted – on “white elephant” infrastructure projects.
The Leeds Bradford Airport attempt at a rail link will prove to be another “white elephant” and an unbelievably expensive one.
An intended road link is alleged to be from Rawdon Road, opposite Rawdon Crematorium and across green belt land.
Rawdon Road is an extremely busy road and the scheme will create havoc, even more danger, if a new road was introduced.
It will be another ill-thought out element of a nonsensical scheme.
Degree folly for nursing
From: Hilary Andrews, Nursery Lane, Leeds.
MAYBE we wouldn’t have such a shortage of nurses (The Yorkshire Post, March 21) if we stopped insisting that nurses had an university degree. Many women who would make wonderful caring nurses with great empathty for their patients are put off by the largely unnecessary studying they now have to do.
From: Andrew Mercer, Guiseley.
I WELCOME the new criteria to measure the reliability and punctuality of trains. Can the same scrutiny be applied to promises made by politicians like Transport Secretary Chris Grayling? Thank you.