Welcome to Yorkshire chief awarded honorary degree
Gary joined Welcome to Yorkshire (WTY) in 2008 and has been instrumental in creating a world-leading tourism marketing service for Leeds and the region, bringing the 2014 Grand Départ of the Tour de France to Yorkshire.
He has led the company to receive international recognition at the World Travel Awards, where it won World’s Leading Marketing Campaign in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Last month he became Sir Gary Verity as he was awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, in recognition of his services to tourism and the Grand Départ.
Gary was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration on Wednesday 22 July, for his service to the city and region.
Speaking about receiving the award he said: “I grew up not far from Headingley Campus and for someone like me to get an award like this is quite unbelievable and I’m hugely grateful and very humbled.
“I’ve been very fortunate and have had a fantastic career that’s been very varied and taken me to all parts of the world. I have worked alongside amazing people, many of whom have remained friends and will be lifelong friends. The most amazing thing about work is that wherever you work, you will meet some incredible people who you will forge relationships with that will change your life undoubtedly.”
Speaking to the graduating students, he added: “You are embarking on the next chapter of your adventure called life and even when you are having the toughest day, there are lots of people that would trade places with you, so just get on and achieve whatever you can. It’s also really important that you are fired with enthusiasm; otherwise you might end up being fired - with enthusiasm!”
Attracting over 200 million visits a year, tourism in Yorkshire is worth around £7 billion and the WTY team works closely with tourism businesses, councils and other partners to grow the county’s visitor economy and make Yorkshire a leading destination.
In addition to Gary’s inspirational leadership, a key part of WTY’s success has been the engagement in a number of cultural partnerships including Yorkshire’s medal-winning entries to the Chelsea Flower Show, the Railway Children Tour and the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle – the largest initiative of its kind in Europe.
Leeds-born Gary is a passionate Yorkshireman, spending his time outside of WTY running a sheep farm in Coverdale. He has also raised more than £250,000 for cancer charities in memory of his late wife Helen Verity, taking part in two New York Marathons and the London Marathon. In 2013, he became Yorkshire Patron for Marie Curie Cancer Care, encouraging and initiating fundraising opportunities for the charity across the country.
Gary attended Leeds Grammar School before becoming a management trainee in a Yorkshire bank. He then spent 18 years working at Royal Insurance, including three years in Hong Kong where he set up and ran the Hong Kong office. His next role was running Bradford and Bingley’s Retail Property Services, where he turned a £1million a month loss into a £1million a month profit. He has been the Group Managing Director of Prontaprint and Kall Kwik, and Johnsons Cleaners UK, before joining WTY in 2008.
Leeds Beckett University Vice Chancellor, Professor Susan Price, said: “Gary is a regular guest at our University, contributing lectures, student placements and graduate employment at WTY. His pioneering work with WTY and charity fundraising is a source of great inspiration and pride for our region and we are delighted to recognise the significant contribution he has made to Leeds and Yorkshire with this Honorary Doctorate alongside the achievements of our graduating students.”