Andy Mitchell writes a heartfelt farewell to an old friend

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It’s been a heartbreaking start to 2022 following the announcement of the death of our dear friend and colleague Gary Burgess. You may remember Gary from his days on Radio Wave. He was a bundle of energy that tore right through the station from his early days as a station helper when he was still at 6th Form, right through to him being the Regional Programme boss!

 

Gary Burgess

Gary Burgess

For some of us, we were so lucky to call him our personal friend for three decades.

The impact Gary made on listeners, first of all locally here on the Fylde coast, and ultimately on TV across the Channel islands and even further afield can not be understated. This man was a force of nature, everyone’s favourite champion, who fought back illness for over 20 years.

He never stopped. I remember driving home from work one evening in 1999 listening to Gary on Radio Wave, telling us he’d been diagnosed with testicular cancer. His honest and candid appraisal of the situation live on air, at a time when things like that just weren’t discussed in public, I believe, was the turning point in getting blokes to be more open about the issue.

We worked together in the Newsroom for some years. I might have been the News Editor, but it was from Gary, I learnt so much. He had a forensic knowledge about local issues. He knew what councillors would say before he even asked them a question. It was a skill that would stay with him throughout his career.

Twenty years ago, I used to read the news on Border TV. Gary used to come up to the TV station with me in the evening and watch me do it. No pressure there then! “Love the camera” he used to say “Don’t just read the script” I never stopped taking direction from the lad who was seemingly never wrong!

“And another thing” he implored, only last week on a FaceTime call, live in in his dressing gown, “when you’re writing your columns for the Gazette, write from the heart” he said. “They know the facts…. it’s YOUR feelings they want to hear about”

Gary, I’ll miss you so much. Thirty years have flown by, and we had so much fun. RIP mate. And THAT’S from the heart.