My good friend Gerry McIver has died and I will miss him beyond measure. He was 81 years of age and had been ill for some time. He will be remembered by many for the role he played in the Hillsborough Justice Campaign and his was usually the first face people saw when they came into the HJC shop.
He wasn’t at Hillsborough nor did he lose anyone in the disaster. However, Gerry felt passionately about the injustice, lies and cover up that those involved had endured. He committed the last eighteen years of his life to actively working towards righting the wrongs of Hillsborough and, without Gerry, the HJC would have been unable to grow and sustain its campaign over so many years.
It was Gerry who opened the shop every working day, as well as weekends and evenings, when Liverpool F.C. played home and his commitment in running the shop provided us with valuable funds to maintain our campaign. He organised the shop with military precision and commanded a respect from all – more than that, though, his presence at quiet times throughout the week enabled many to benefit from quality time with him. Many who came through the door were survivors of the disaster and Gerry provided a listening ear and, more practically, encouraged a lot of them to accept help from the HJC for their trauma.
He was very much part and parcel of the community in Anfield as he also lived in the area. Gerry’s work with the campaign epitomised the hard work that went on behind the scenes over many years… we all relied on Gerry. He made things happen, yet never sought recognition for what he did. This was the measure of the man. Like all of us involved, he wanted the end of Hillsborough to be the establishment of truth and justice. However, he was wise enough to realise that the means to that end were equally as important. For that reason, he approached everyone with respect and sought to play his part in the here and now to improve the quality of their life.
Gerry really did make that difference. I only knew him through the campaign, but in him I found a kindred spirit with a similar moral compass who believed in the fundamental goodness in people. He recounted many stories to me of his life over the years – probably the most traumatic being the death of his mother, Alice, when a shelter in Durning Road took a direct hit during World War II. She was just 39 years of age and Gerry was just a small boy… his mother died protecting Gerry and his brother and sister and could only be identified by her jewellery. He was never maudlin about that life-altering event, calling it fate as his mother had swapped places with someone else. Instead, he would relate tales of his new life in Wales – where he was evacuated to – which led to a lifelong love of that country.
Perhaps this tragic loss, at such a tender age, actually led to his caring and generous nature, enabling him to place a value on life that most of us only learn at a much later age. Of course, no one is left unscathed by such tragedy and Gerry found an outlet for his emotions through writing poetry – his many poems highlighted his love of nature and of people. Those of us fortunate enough to have been the subject of one of his poems will undoubtedly find his words now have a deeper resonance. Above all else, though, Gerry was a family man who loved not only his flesh and blood, but also many others and he was always generous with his time, skills and commitment.
The many comments and outpouring of love and loss since Gerry’s death – by so many people – highlight the old adage of what goes around comes around. What finer tribute to this man than he is remembered with love and affection. It is the only recognition he would want to accept.
RIP my lovely friend.
Gerry McIver (1935-2016)
Pic courtesy Mirrorpix