Wednesday 20 September 2017

Tom Sheridan

Motor group chief who facilitated Ryanair's first commercial flight

INTEGRITY: Tom Sheridan
INTEGRITY: Tom Sheridan

TOM Sheridan died peacefully at his home in Waterford on Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014 at the age of 76. He had battled with illness for 14 years, and spent his final days at home in the comfort of his family – Curley, his wife of over 50 years, daughter Jennifer, sons Gerard and Joey, and grandchildren Thomas, Harry, Alex, Zoe, Emma, Anna, and James.

Tom guided the Sheridan family business from a single motor dealer in Waterford to one of the largest Ford main dealerships in the country, also expanding into ancillary businesses including large car fleet leasing businesses operating in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary .

As chairman of the fledgling Waterford Airport Company , he secured the involvement of the newly established Ryanair, who had its first commercial flight from Waterford to Gatwick on July 8, 1985. Curley still holds ticket No 1 issued by Ryanair.

The esteem with which he was regarded was marked by the huge attendance at the removal to St Joseph and Benildus Church, and the funeral Mass and burial later.

He was very proud of his membership of the Knights of Malta, and would have felt honoured by their attendance at the funeral.

Tom was deeply involved in various business organisations, and is a past president of the Waterford Chamber of Commerce.

Tom joined Waterford Rotary Club shortly after its formation in 1969, and served enthusiastically for over 45 years. He acted as president in 1978/79, and received the highest accolade awarded by the organisation, the Paul Harris Fellowship, for his service to Rotary and the Community. He was involved in a number of international liaisons with other clubs.

Tom was an early member of the Aero Club, and became an enthusiastic pilot – this led to his involvement in the development of Waterford Airport, perhaps his most public business achievement.

Tom moulded and guided a group of local entrepreneurs who took over the airstrip at Waterford, and set up Waterford Airport plc. This group put up a considerable amount of their own funds, and successfully raised over €1.25m from the public, through a campaign that involved the whole community. This secured a facility for Waterford which allowed the South East community access by air to London, Birmingham, Manchester, and for a time continental Europe. In the early days of the company, Tom was involved in securing commercial flights from Waterford by a start-up Ryanair company, which had its first ever flight from the Waterford airstrip.

His way of always living life to the full, always involved, always generous with his time, led to him building up numerous friends and acquaintances. His way of always engaging with, and including, people was his hallmark. This warmth and integrity set him apart and made him special.

He was very organised, a skill that made him a wonderful chairman, his meetings were always run efficiently. He was 100 per cent honourable, everything was done correctly. There were no corners cut, no side deals. He would strike a hard bargain, but his word could be relied on. Tom had style and panache. He would never accept anything – a deal, accommodation, travel, food, wine – which was not the best. Everything was done with flair and decorum.

Sunday Independent

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