Melanie Verwoerd on Gerry Ryan: 'I still love him and miss him every day'
Melanie Verwoerd has said that she misses her late partner Gerry Ryan every day, but has thanked the Irish people for their continued support.
The former South African ambassador, who was recently appointed as the executive director of an American-Boston based charity Tremendous Hearts, has said that the outpouring of support for her by the general public has been overwhelming.
Four years on from the RTE broadcaster's death, Verwoerd says that she still deeply misses the “most extraordinary person” she has ever met.
Speaking on Today FM's The Last Word this evening, she refuted suggestions from host Matt Cooper that the aftermath of the broadcaster’s death may have altered her opinion of Ireland and Irish people in general.
“If it wasn’t for the thousands of Irish people who sent me letters, or who emailed or phoned me, or in the streets the people that hugged me, it might have (changed her opinion on Irish people),” she said
“Some of the stuff that happened to me was horrible and it was incredibly tough to deal with.”
She cited one particular example of such support.
“Recently I was in Dun Laoghaire with my friend and I was on the corner of the street, she said.
“I saw an elderly woman and she walked up to me.”
“I was wondering what was going to happen. She said ‘You’re Melanie Verwoerd aren’t you?’ and when I said yes she asked could she give me a hug.”
“I said of course as I love hugs. She wouldn’t even give me her name.
“That brings me to tears every time and I got thousands of letters and cards at the various stages of everything that happened.”
Now an infrequent visitor to Ireland, “my cats are in Cape Town and my kids are in Dublin”, she said that still misses Ryan deeply.
“I mourn Gerry very deeply and I miss Gerry every day.”
“I still find it very hard to talk about without crying. I still love him and I have made peace with the fact that I will forever miss him.”
Verwoerd added that her controversial memoir - entitled 'When We Dance' - was necessary as part of her grieving process and stands by everything that was in it.
“The only way I could mourn him properly was to write a book. It was to honour my promise to Gerry.”
“What people said and what the book was were totally different things.”
The mum-of-two said that the stories circulating about her partner following the inquest into his death were "completely untrue" and did not reflect his true character.
She dismissed claims that he was a cocaine addict.
Ms Verwoerd found the broadcaster dead at his apartment in Ballsbridge on April 10, 2010.
He was a father of five children with wife Morah Ryan.
An inquest into the broadcaster's death found there were traces of cocaine in his system.
“What was done to Gerry after the inquest was shameful. Those stories were lies,” Ms Verwoerd said.
“Gerry was the most extraordinary person I have ever met. He was an intellect and generous. I never met anyone more generous.”
“He was incredibly charismatic and loving.”
She revealed that part of the reason she left Ireland was to seek work as well as escaping the media glare.