Restaurateur, property developer and key player for decades in many aspects of Manchester’s economic, cultural, charitable and educational life, Gerry Yeung has been appointed High Sheriff of Greater Manchester for 2017.
Although the role is now largely symbolic and ceremonial, the honour is bestowed by the Queen acting as Duke of Lancaster and is England’s oldest secular office after the Crown, dating back more that 1,000 years to the reign of the Saxon King Ethelred the Unready.
Gerry, who describes himself as a Chinese Mancunian, was born in Guangzhou (Canton) and spent his childhood in Hong Kong before coming to Manchester as a teenager.
“I’m a sheriff from the Wild East not the Wild West!” he joked.
He completed his education in the UK and, with his elder brother Harry, joined the family business, the Yang Sing in Manchester’s Chinatown, at its inception. The restaurant, which went on to build a nationwide reputation, has now passed to the family’s third generation, Harry’s daughter Bonnie and son Yin Ting.
As a property developer, Gerry rescued one of Stockport’s most historic buildings from virtual ruin by neglect. He bought Grade II listed Mauldeth House, a Georgian villa built by an American merchant in 1830 that later became the residence of James Prince Lee, the first Bishop of Manchester, in the 1850s.
In 1880, the house was converted into a hospital and later, an annexe, now Camellia House, was added. Later still, the buildings, surrounded by Heaton Moor golf course, were used as an old people’s home then abandoned by the NHS for 20 years.
He restored both buildings. Mauldeth House is now the residence of the Chinese Consul General and Camellia House is home to Gerry, his wife Joanne and their two children.
Appointed an OBE in 2008 and a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Gerry became the first Chinese President of Manchester Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2003 and has served his adopted city in a variety of roles with MOSI, The Prince’s Trust, MIDAS and Withington Girls’ School.
He has received honorary doctorates from Salford and Manchester Metropolitan Universities and last year was awarded the University of Manchester’s Medal of Honour.
As High Sheriff, Gerry will be required to uphold and lend active support to the principle organs of the constitution – the Royal Family, the judiciary, police and emergency services, local authorities and all recognised faith groups.
Other duties include assuring the welfare of visiting high court judges, attending on them in court and offering them hospitality; supporting and encouraging the voluntary sector and supporting the Lord Lieutenant on royal visits and other appropriate occasions.
“I am honoured and delighted to have been chosen to carry out this unique role by the Queen. My personal experience of life in Manchester and the UK has been nothing but positive. I have found that the words that are often used to describe British values – justice, fairness, tolerance and liberty – are all true.
“We have a society with many fine institutions and traditions as well as one with great diversity, generosity of spirit and civic pride. Manchester has been very good to me and my family and I am very much looking forward to my year of office and the opportunity to further serve Greater Manchester.”
Gerry’s installation ceremony will take place at the University of Manchester’s Whitworth Hall on 13th April 2017.