Gerry Macgregor has spent an 83 year lifetime telling people how to spell his name.
Not just his first name (‘Gerry’ not ‘Jerry’), but more particularly his surname. The world around him has repeatedly insisted he is ‘McGregor’ or ‘MacGregor’, but he is in fact ‘Macgregor’ with a small ‘g’.
So insistently has his name been mis-spelt that Gerry has adopted the epithet ‘wee-gee’ … it’s now his email address and even his nickname. And anyone who plays in a Wellington Centre tournament will know that more than likely ‘Wee-gee’ is behind the organisation of the event – he’s the Centre Tournament Manager.
“I’d be lost without him,” says Bowls Wellington General Manager. “He looks after all the centre tournaments, the rep tournaments and the school tournaments. I put a lot on him … I can trust him to get the job done.”
Gerry was born in Riverton in the deep, deep south. As a kid, the family moved to Edendale in the slightly-less-deep south where he eventually started working for the New Zealand Post Office … delivering mail and telegrams.
“It was the start of a 42year career in the Post office,” recalls Gerry. “Most of it was in Wellington at headquarters … the InterContinental Hotel now stands where the headquarters were, before they moved down the road to Waterloo Quay.”
“I did anything and everything. Before 1987 when it was split into three SOEs, that meant post work, telephone work and banking work. I lead a project team to computerise telephone records. And I eventually ended up as executive assistant to the Director General.”
Gerry retired in 1995.
“Marie got pretty fed up with me being a nuisance around home,” he laughs. “Then one day I saw an ad in the paper for the Johnsonville Bowling Club AGM. I popped along, peered in the door, and was just about to give it away when someone from the club collared me and bought me a beer.”
“I hardly left the club after that!!”
The Johnsonville Bowling Club knew they were on to a good thing, and within 2 or 3 years made ‘Wee-gee’ President.
“I was only ever an average bowler,” says Gerry. “I more enjoyed the administration side of things.”
That’s meant Gerry has not only helped in the Johnsonville Bowling Club itself, but done stints helping at Bowls Wellington as Centre President, Deputy Chair of the Board, and has been made a Life Member.
“He is such a major part of everything we do,” says Nigel. “Our sport is indebted to his service, and bowls would not be in anywhere near as good of health as it is in Wellington, if not for him. He is instrumental in helping us have one of the best, if not the best participation rates in centre tournaments in the country.”
Helen Stallard from Bowls New Zealand, is equally praiseworthy.
“There isn’t much he doesn’t know,” she says. “Gerry’s a great asset to the Wellington Centre. He’s an old school gentleman as well. Whenever I come to Wellington, he always offers to come and pick me up at the airport.”
At the age of 83, some may think it’s time for Gerry to retire. But he’s far from ready to be put out to pasture. And why should he be?
Willing and able volunteers like Gerry are the heart of our wonderful sport in New Zealand … without them our sport would be nowhere.
And while Wee-gee can continue to get around Wellington in his white X3, we’ll be happy knowing that tournament organisation in Wellington is in safe hands.