Belfast Telegraph

Tributes paid to project chief for top shopping malls Gerry Hughes after sudden death at 65

Hughes McMichael managing director Gerry Hughes (right) with Jas Mooney and David Patton at the extension and restoration of the King’s Head bar
Hughes McMichael managing director Gerry Hughes (right) with Jas Mooney and David Patton at the extension and restoration of the King’s Head bar
Gerry Hughes
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

The family of a prominent project manager who died suddenly has said he will be "so missed by so many".

Gerry Hughes, who founded the firm Hughes McMichael over three decades ago, passed away at his Holywood home on December 29, aged 65.

Requiem Mass will be held for the father-of-three at St Colmcille's Church in his Co Down home town at noon tomorrow.

In a death notice, Mr Hughes's family paid a poignant tribute to him, saying: "He will be so missed by so many."

Project management director at Hughes Michael, Gareth Black, who worked alongside Mr Hughes, extended his condolences to the family and described his associate as "a dear friend and mentor".

He also praised Mr Hughes for his professionalism and said he was an outstanding project manager who oversaw key developments, including shopping centres such as Foyleside in Londonderry and The Marches in Dundalk.

"As managing director, not only was he passionate for the affairs of Hughes McMichael, he treated every project as if it was his only job," said Mr Black.

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"Gerry's attention to detail was second to none, and as project manager, whether he was dealing with lawyers, architects, engineers, planners or specialist consultants, he always had a full grasp of the matters in hand.

"Having worked with Gerry for over 30 years, I considered him so much more than my managing director, he was a dear friend and mentor to whom I will always be indebted."

He added: "After speaking to staff, clients and fellow consultants in the industry in recent days, there is no doubt of how highly he was respected.

"He will be sorely missed by all."

Mr Hughes graduated as a quantity surveyor and shortly after becoming chartered he established Hughes McMichael, where he assumed the role of managing director.

The company subsequently expanded its range of services to include project management, architecture, asset management and quantity surveying.

In the early years, the firm worked extensively on public sector housing projects, primarily for the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

Its client base now is primarily the private commercial sector and the firm works on projects throughout the UK and Ireland.

Some recent projects that Mr Hughes had been involved with locally were Foyleside and Forestside shopping centres, where he acted as asset manager.

He also secured planning consent for the Royal Exchange scheme in Belfast city centre for the original developer, the redevelopment of Law Society House and the development of the new Bar Library.

Mr Hughes was also a founder member, and past chairman, of the Northern Ireland branch for the Association for Project Management. He worked on projects for a number of private clients while devoting a good portion of his time to working on behalf of organisations in the voluntary sector.

Mr Hughes joined the board of Radius Housing in 2019 and was on the Communities and Assets Committee, Development Committee and Radius Homes Board.

Chief executive John McLean said everyone at Radius Housing was "deeply saddened by the sudden loss of their friend and esteemed board member, Gerry Hughes". He said their thoughts were with his family "at this incredibly difficult time".

"We were very fortunate to be able to recruit a voluntary board member of Gerry's integrity and technical experience," Mr McLean said.

"Radius seeks to provide housing, care and support for tenants and vulnerable people across Northern Ireland.

"In just a short time Gerry had made valued contributions to our business which will doubtless impact positively on many people for years to come."

The death notice said donations in lieu of flowers can be made to the Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke Association, c/o O'Kanes Funeral Directors, 116-118 Donegall Street, Belfast, BT1 2GX or www.okanesfunerals.co.uk.

Mr Hughes is survived by his wife Maureen, daughter Catherine and sons John and Stephen.

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