Billy Gallagher, the British-born chef who was paralysed in a carjacking shooting incident in South Arica 16 years ago, has passed away. He was 67.
Born in August 1948 and brought up in Newcastle, Gallagher established a successful career in South Africa after moving to the country in 1973. As well as making his name as group food and beverage director for one of Africa's leading hotel groups, Southern Sun, for 24 years, Gallagher was a highly respected figure within the chef competition circuit and was honorary life president of the World Association of Chefs Societies.
His move to South Africa followed an education at Westminster College and a working stint at London's Dorchester hotel.
Throughout his career, Gallagher worked tirelessly in advancing the culinary knowledge of young people and was instrumental in establishing the first apprenticeship scheme for chefs in South Africa. He spent five years as chairman of the board at the University of Johannesburg's School of Tourism and Hospitality and was honorary president of the South African Chefs Association.
Gallagher received numerous culinary awards and medals including a gold medal and silver cup when he represented South Africa at the 15th World Culinary Olympics in Germany in 1987; four gold medals and two bronze medals when he was team leader for the South Africa Chefs City Team at the 17th Culinary Olympics held in Germany in 1988; and three gold medal and a silver team medal at the 6th International Gastroprag Culinary Expo in Czechoslovakia in 1990.
He also received the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000 in recognition of his role an exceptional leader in the global hospitality industry.
Since 2009, Gallagher ran Billy Gallagher and Associates, a company which offered menu development and consultancy.
Gallagher's life took an unexpected turn in March 2000 when he was shot and paralysed during an attempted car hijacking in South Africa. He was hit through the window of his car while at traffic lights in the Modderfontein district of Johannesburg on his way home from work.
The bullet pierced Gallagher's shoulder and damaged his spinal cord, with the result that he spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
Gallagher's death was announced by his family on Facebook. It said: "It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our Grandfather, Mentor and Friend Billy Gallagher, who passed in his sleep during the early hours of this morning. Billy will be sorely missed but will live on in all of our hearts."
John Retallick, vice-president, Craft Guild of Chefs in the UK, described Gallagher as an industry legend. " Billy was an inspiration to thousands of young chefs and older ones as well."
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