Melanie's new memoirs keep a promise to Gerry
THE partner of the late RTE broadcaster Gerry Ryan has written a book to keep a promise she made to him two weeks before his tragic death.
Melanie Verwoerd's book, 'When We Dance', chronicles the South African human rights campaigner's career and private life, including what she describes as "the happiest two-and-a-half years of my life" as Mr Ryan's partner.
Ms Verwoerd, a former South African Ambassador to Ireland who now works as a consultant, revealed she turned down a substantial advance for her memoirs, to be published in October.
"Two weeks before Gerry died, we had been to a funeral and the topic of death came up," she told the Irish Independent.
"He asked me to promise to speak about him after his death to ensure that people knew he was a good man.
"This book is not about money. It is about doing what he asked. At the time, I thought what we'd do is write a book together but it would be 20 to 30 years from then."
She met Mr Ryan three years after separating from her husband Wilhelm Verwoerd, grandson of the "architect of apartheid", in 2005. They fell madly in love, but were only occasionally seen out in public.
She found his body on the floor of his bedroom in 2010.
The inquest into his death heard that traces of cocaine found in his system were the likely trigger for the cardiac arrhythmia that caused his death.
Ms Verwoerd's book tells how the tragedy was the start of a very traumatic period of mourning that grew more difficult due to huge public and media interest in their relationship.
She has since erected a bench in his memory in a Dublin park, where the pair loved to sit and talk.
The book, published by Liberties Press, will also tell the story of her high-profile exit from her job as executive director of UNICEF Ireland.
With a foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, she chronicles her upbringing in an Afrikaner heartland, where the only black people she knew were servants or labourers.
She was one of the few white members of the ANC, and later became the party's youngest female MP, during South African's journey from apartheid to democracy.