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Obituary: Gerry Anderson - an unchained and irrepressible spirit on the radio

By Eddie McIlwaine

Broadcaster Gerry Anderson, who has died at 69, fought ill-health for two years while the listeners to his daily radio show prayed for his recovery.

His show on BBC Radio Foyle and Radio Ulster down 30 years made him a much-loved voice on the air.

But during his fight against illness with his wife Christine by his side, he asked for and was given privacy while his co-presenter Sean Coyle carried on alone on the air.

Never a day went by without at least one inquiry about Gerry, Coyle will tell you.

Sean, who hosted an emotional show yesterday morning, said: "It was always an absolute pleasure to work with Gerry, it just didn't feel like coming into work. He always brought a smile to my face and I had the ability to do the same to him. In 30 years there was never a cross word spoken."

Anderson was described as a true legend of broadcasting by the director of BBC Northern Ireland Peter Johnston.

"A man of real wit and mischief," he added. "Gerry was an unchained and an irrepressible spirit," declared broadcaster Gerry Kelly.

SDLP MP for Foyle, Mark Durkan, said: His home city of Derry has lost a very special son. Gerry earned a special standing with his wit, warmth, his way with words and his on-the-button observations. He was an unceremonious ambassador, and broadcasting has lost a limited edition of one."

Mickey Bradley, a member of The Undertones, declared: "Gerry Anderson broke the mould – he was as funny off-air as he was on-air."

Anderson turned to broadcasting as a radio presenter in 1984 after an early career as a teacher and showband guitarist.

Gerry had the happy knack of putting guests on his show at ease, a skill that helped earn him several awards as a broadcaster of the year. He was later the first presenter from Northern Ireland voted into the UK Radio Hall of Fame.

Gerry is survived by his wife Christine, their daughter Kirsty, son David and grandchildren Sarah and Thomas.

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