Couple dedicated to tennis

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w--m-steuart-corryA COUPLE who were key figures in Helensburgh Lawn Tennis Club for several decades taught hundreds of local youngsters to play tennis and played the game themselves into their eighties.

William Steuart-Corry, known to all as Will, and his wife Margaret, of 9 Kennedy Drive, were honoured by both the Lawn Tennis Association and the Scottish Sports Council (now sportscotland) for their service to the sport.

One of Will’s proudest moments was when young pupils of his demonstrated Short Tennis during the Championships at Wimbledon.

Born in Ireland on March 14 1908, Will attended Castlepark Preparatory School in Dublin, then Haileybury public school in Hertfordshire.

He lost both his parents when he was just 18, and had to leave school early to return to Ireland to save the family business and look after the family. After his marriage in 1935 he and Margaret moved to Helensburgh to set up home and run the firm from Scotland.

A very successful business career as chairman and managing director of William Corry and Company Ltd. of Belfast and Glasgow was interrupted by military service in the Royal Army Service Corps. He attained the rank of Captain, and served in Egypt, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon.

His firm produced lemonade and other fizzy drinks, and during the seventies he had to cope with major difficulties caused by the troubles in Ireland.

These Will, who was highly regarded for caring deeply about his employees and their families, managed to overcome, and he continued to lead the company and serve as a director of Opencrate Ltd. in the United Kingdom and Norway until his retiral in 1978.

He was widely known in the industry, serving at various times as president of the Scottish Soft Drink Manufacturers Association, the Northern Irish Soft Drinks Manufacturers Association, and the Scottish Cider Bottlers Association, as well their benevolent societies.

In Helensburgh his many activities included playing a major part in the life of St Michael and All Angels Church, serving as Chairman of the Vestry, Lay Representative/Elector, and Sidesman. He particularly requested that a collection be taken for the church restoration fund at the thanksgiving service following his death on July 10 2001 at the age of 93.

He campaigned with his usual enthusiasm for the West Dunbartonshire Conservatives, and held the office of membership secretary of the Helensburgh branch. He also brought his knowledge and enthusiasm to Dumbarton District (now West Dunbartonshire) Sports Council, serving as its deputy chairman.

But it was to local tennis that Will and Margaret devoted so much of their spare time and energy, mostly at the Helensburgh club in Suffolk Street.

Both extremely good players and great competitors, they represented the club in West of Scotland League and various cup competitions for many years, and won countless titles, trophies and prizes in internal championships and tournaments.

Both went out of their way to play with and encourage young players, and undertook considerable individual and group coaching — a subject on which they had very strong views about techniques and methods.

They held most of the offices in the club, with Will retiring in 1997 from the position of hon. president, after serving for some years as president. Both played prominent parts in the club’s centenary celebrations in 1984.

steuart-corry-short-tennis.jpgIn the 80s and 90s he played a significant role in encouraging the £500,000 major development project at the Suffolk Street club, with the building of a new two-storey clubhouse and the provision of seven artificial grass courts all floodlit to international standard.

Will continued to play until just a few years before his death, deciding that he must give up after breaking his wrist when he fell while running backwards to execute a smash.

But he continued even longer his involvement with Helensburgh Short Tennis Club (left), which he and Margaret jointly founded at the Clyde C.E. Centre to teach toddlers the basics of ball sense and tennis with small rackets and soft tennis balls.

The huge impact made on the sport by this remarkable couple resulted in joint recognition from the governing bodies and from the club itself.

Will was an honorary member of both Helensburgh LTC and the Scottish Lawn Tennis Association, and there is a plaque in their memory at the club.

Their daughters Mary and Joy were both outstanding players, and they also had two sons, Christopher and Maurice.

The couple, who lived at Lethamhill, Kennedy Drive, until moving to a smaller and more manageable new house nearby, celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary on April 27 2001. Margaret died the following year at the age of 87.