gerry nirth legend

Eulogy to GERRY


I have known Gerry for 38 years. He coached me at age 16, and for the last 10 years he has helped me and worked with me to build a successful running business. I owe him a great deal.

Most of you here today will know of Gerry the athlete, but what of Gerry the man?

Where do you start? Well let's begin with two links to Gerry the athlete.

Did you know that in his younger days he was very nearly a footballer rather than a runner. He was a talented footballer playing in teams that included Jimmy Armfield and George Eastham, who made the 1966 England World Cup squad. Gerry wisely listened to the guidance of his father and stuck to running.

10 years later, already a great runner, he decided to change his life altogether and move to London to join the best Club in the country at that time - Belgrave Harriers - and give running his all. He drove a white van around the streets of South London making deliveries and the quicker he delivered, the earlier he finished, and the harder and longer he could train. This showed his dedication, determination and his willingness to take a calculated risk and give it his best shot.

The old adage 'If a job is worth doing, then it is worth doing well' suits Gerry to a T.

He RAN WELL . There is no doubting that - Ranked in the World's Top 10 and 3 National titles, a World record as well as England and GB vests galore. He was Britain's best and is known in running circles rightly so as - The Legend.

As well as that he put something back in to the sport that had given him so much.

Remember - If a job is worth doing it is worth doing well.....

He ORGANISED WELL . The D-Day 10K, the promenade races and the Victory 5 were great Club races that he proudly organised. I remember for the Victory 5 he was constantly looking for ways to improve the course and make it what he always claimed it was - the fastest 5 Mile race in the country.

If a job is worth doing it is worth doing well.....

He MANAGED WELL . He took positions as Team Manager not just for the local Club City of Portsmouth AC, but also for the South of England Athletics Association and then a stint as England Road Running Team Manager. All the teams performed for him - he had that knack of getting the best out of each of them.

If a job is worth doing it is worth doing well......

He COACHED WELL . 6 International athletes and then later he coached the girls groups. Girls are easier to coach he told me - they don't talk back!

If a job is worth doing it is worth doing well.....

He LIVED WELL . Life wasn't all about running - You have got to have some fun!

Gerry certainly let his hair down when the time was right. Even managing a little dance when carrying the 2012 Olympic Torch.

Gerry always told me that he wanted to live to 100. He managed to squeeze 100 years worth of experiences in to 77. I asked him just last year was there anywhere he wanted to visit and I would fix it. He thought long and hard....and said 'not really' .

Gerry was a genuine guy. He strove always to be fair and kind and hated any sort of confrontation. He liked people, and that came through in the way that others responded to him. He showed an interest in everyone he met, and wanted them to reach their potential, whoever they were, wherever they came from.

Despite his own remarkable athletic success he remained humble , never believing himself above others and was consequently able to relate to people from all walks of life. More than anything he wanted those in his care to experience the same joy that running had given him. His greatest pleasure came from seeing others achieve success in their athletics, happiness in their personal lives, or just enjoyment of a good night out!

But most of what I will remember of Gerry the man is the fun and laughter that always surrounded him wherever he went. There was always a mischievous twinkle in those blue eyes and a smile was never far away. He loved to laugh and sometimes without meaning to, created so many comic moments. He was one of those naturally funny people who had no idea how funny he was....We can all swap stories later back at the Mountbatten Centre but here are just a couple.....Wherever we went on our travels we would look to relax for a short time every afternoon and Gerry without fail would always say - 'Ooh that's the best cup of tea I've ever had' . Whilst helping to tidy up after a Club function Gerry was busily, and it has to be said fairly merrily, washing up. Someone shouted - not those cups Gerry - they are Cardboard !

More than anything I believe Gerry would want all his family and friends who are here today, to remember him with a happy smile and a bit of a giggle, rather than grieve his passing. I hope we will be able to honour him in the way he would want. Gerry was a tough man in the expectations of himself, but kept this well hidden beneath the light-hearted fun guy exterior. Hopefully we have learned from his example and will do him proud not only today but in the future, remembering him in the only way he would want us to - with a smile.



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