Bob, a fellow technician who worked alongside Ged for nearly a decade at London Midland's Tyseley depot, said, “I went to see Ged a few times at St Mary's and saw what an amazing job the staff did for him. They were so accommodating to everyone who visited and created such a nice atmosphere for him. I think it helped Ged and his family a lot. He was kept as happy as he could have been.
“The events are to raise money for Birmingham St Mary's but also to keep Ged's memory alive. He was great on the shop floor, he loved a joke and was as popular at work as he was outside it. We miss him.”
Bob's charitable efforts have seen him gain national recognition after he was named a finalist for the Person of the Year gong at the country's leading rail awards ceremony in October. He continued, “I was really surprised and honoured to be nominated. It was nice but the fundraisers are not about me, they are about Ged and Birmingham St Mary's.”
Ged's widow, Elizabeth, said, “Gerard loved Bob and had great respect for him as a friend and a colleague. He would feel most humble that this charity night is held in his name - he would have loved to be there as Gerard loved a good party! It has been fantastic to see how much they have raised each year. Bob, his friends and colleagues work very hard over the year to make the evenings a success. I admire them very much.”
“Gerard was larger than life - I called him my loveable rogue. When he was diagnosed with cancer in June 2008 we were devastated, but he had an op and we thought that was the end of that awful disease. But that was not to be, and at the end of August we thought he had a stroke, it turned out he had two brain tumours and that is when we became involved with the hospice. Mary, the cancer nurse that came out to us, was fantastic, as were everyone we came in contact with at St Mary's. They took so much of the pressure of Gerard's final days off us. I find it hard to say how grateful I am to them all for making this so comfortable for us.
“Gerard passed away on the 14 December 2008, so this year's charity night has even more meaning as it is being held on the fourth anniversary of his passing.”
Held for the first time in December 2009, the event has grown year-on-year to become a fixture in the calendar at the depot, requiring additional organisational support from Bob's family and colleagues at London Midland. Their efforts have raised thousands of pounds for Birmingham St Mary's, through admission fees and items donated by football clubs, businesses and celebrities such as darts champion, Phil 'The Power' Taylor.
Theresa Meek, Corporate Fundraiser at Birmingham St Mary's Hospice, said: “We're truly grateful to these fantastic colleagues at London Midland for their support of the Hospice. Their annual fundraising has made a significant contribution towards ensuring the services on which so many local people rely are able to continue. On behalf of all our patients and their relatives, I would like to say thank you very much.”
Donations can be made to St Mary's Hospice by card payment over the telephone or by a cheque payable to 'Birmingham St Mary's Hospice' and sent to Christmas Charity Auction & Disco, c/o Birmingham St Mary's Hospice, 176 Raddlebarn Road, SellyPark, Birmingham, B29 7DA.
The fundraiser will take place at Our Lady of Lourdes club, Trittiford road, Yardley wood, Birmingham B13 0EU on Friday 14 December 2012 from 7pm. All are welcome.