It’s with heavy hearts that we confirm that Ron Odunaiya passed away in the early hours of Sunday 19th January.
News reached us just after Christmas that the cancer Ron had been so recently diagnosed with was, sadly, terminal. It has, nonetheless, been a great shock to us all just how quickly the illness took him, as it will be for so many of you in our network who knew him. We know that, like us, you will feel his loss incredibly, but we hope that you will take comfort in knowing that Ron’s suffering was mercifully short and that he passed away at home with his family by his side.
Ron was not only integral to the work of MSP, as Director of Community Services for our host authority, Liverpool City Council; he was also a passionate fan and advocate of our work. As a respected member of our advisory board, he steered our work with his vast knowledge and experience, to ensure it brought the greatest benefit possible to those living and working in the Liverpool City Region.
Ron was an undisputed giant of a man, in both stature and in terms of his achievements. In his youth, he was a successful athlete, even competing for a long jump place at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. He then went on to bring his passion for sport into his career, starting as a Sports Development Manager. As his career and reputation grew he would later serve as a Non-Executive Director of Welsh Athletics, The National Governing Body for the sport of Athletics industry; a Non-Executive Director of Youth and Risk, the national charity supporting young people at risk of offending; and one of Sport England’s West Midlands Board members, where he was selected to join the Board as a Non-Executive Director.
Here in the Liverpool City Region, his legacies include bringing the Netball World Cup to Liverpool last summer, plus being integral to bringing both the Special Olympic Games to the city in 2021 and World Gymnastics in 2022. His vision to make Liverpool the most active city in England by 2021 will live on for years to come.
Ron will be remembered with much fondness. He was a strong leader, but with a relaxed style that would put everyone at their ease. He had the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He could also be relied upon to bring a sense of reason to all situations, opportunities and challenges. With his signature blend of cheerfulness, optimism, and determination, he once commented, ‘If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door’.
We know that Ron was incredibly proud of all his three children and their successful sporting careers. Our thoughts are with them, Ron’s wife and all of his family, friends and colleagues at this incredibly difficult time.