Friday, June 03, 2011

The First Day without Andrew Reeves

Of all the sentences I never thought I'd write, the title of this post comes fairly near the top of the list.

I knew when I saw the name of the person calling me on my phone early this morning that something bad had happened. I'm in touch with this friend in some way several times a week but we never speak on the phone. I really felt for him, raw with shock as he was, having to pass on the news that our friend and Scottish Liberal Democrat Director of Campaigns Andrew Reeves had died of a heart attack in the early hours.

Since then my emotions have been intense but not particularly clear a lot of the time. For a long time this morning, dazed as I was, the only thing I could really feel was anger at the sun for daring to shine on such a day. I know that's nothing to be proud of, and that Andrew would not have appreciated such a mean spirited sentiment. He was so kind, lovely and generous and hilariously funny.

For the last almost exactly 3 years, since Andrew came to Scotland, there have been very few days when there hasn't been some sort of communication between us, whether on Twitter, or phone or e-mail. Often it was me chiding him for working too hard. Last week when he was on holiday and I found out that he'd been answering work e-mails, I jokingly threatened to go into Edinburgh and confiscate his laptop and blackberry.
He was so committed to his job, though, and passionate about what he was doing. He transformed campaigning across Scotland. He had a gritty positivity that kept the Liberal Democrat Army going in the worst of circumstances.

I'm conscious that I can barely string an articulate sentence together. I could tell you all about getting to know him Way Back When on Cix, which was the way Lib Dems communicated online in the dark ages before Twitter and Facebook and blogs. About the wild and wonderful Glenrothes by-election campaign, where the ever competitive Mr Reeves played darts with all and sundry, sending the little arrows flying much closer to my head than I was strictly comfortable with. He was forgiven, though, for fixing the boiler, which resolutely refused to come on at weekends. About the first day he arrived in Scotland, a beautiful day like today, and he chose to spend it not getting settled but delivering leaflets in Cowdenbeath with Willie Rennie, Elspeth and I.  About the time we went to the ice hockey so he could show me in real life what the terms like hooking and slashing I'd seen in the match reports I'd proof read (or in our parlance, grammar bitched) actually meant. He was a staunch supporter of the Edinburgh Capitals and ran their Twitter account during matches. He had such an eye for working out what was going on and reporting it quickly and accurately.  About the time this man, who would never miss an opportunity for smut, tweeted to the world that my birthday was on National Orgasm Day.  About the guy who was totally devoted to his husband Roger and their two cats, Loco and Tazzer, and Madron and Zennor before them. About how his cheery support helped me so much when I was ill and stuck at home.

Andrew was generous, kind, funny and lovely. He was a superb leader, too. I wrote a recommendation for him on LinkedIn just 2 days ago which said:
Andrew's leadership and motivational skills, combined with exceptionally good communication skills are an enormous asset to the Scottish Liberal Democrats. He's the sort of person who makes the slog so enjoyable that it's only when the job's done that you realise that you've achieved much more than you ever thought was possible. 
He must have seen that, because he'd approved it. Don't think he was just fluffy though - there was a look that came across his face that meant that you argued with him at your peril. You don't have his kind of leadership skills without the ability to be robust when the occasion demanded it.

His wedding to Roger earlier this year was one of the best nights out I'd ever had, full of characteristic Reeves fun and the cheesiest music ever and reunited me with friends I hadn't seen in years. There was also poignancy as the wedding was fulfilling his late mother's wish to see one of her children get married, as he so beautifully wrote at the time.   The intense sadness I feel is nothing to the loss he's suffering and I feel so much for him and for Andrew's family.

The fact that Andrew Reeves was at one point this morning the 4th highest trending topic in the UK shows the esteem and affection he was held in throughout the party. This party is pretty tight knit. As Colin Ross put it:

Other people have been able to convey what he was like so much better than I ever could. Callum Leslie pushed me over the edge into real proper sad blubbing rather than shocked sniffling with his "I miss you already" post.

Alex Cole-Hamilton writes about how Andrew dealt with "demanding, prima donna, whinging candidates" but still remained a friend and a lion of Liberal Democracy.

Stephen on how Andrew helped him get his job with Yes to Fairer Votes

Sheila on her incredibly kind friend.

Gavin on his experience of Andrew as campaign manager and fellow blogger.

Mark Pack over at Liberal Democrat Voice sums Andrew up very well with 3 memories that will chime with everyone who knew him.

Fraser Macpherson summed up how professional and likeable Andrew was.

Douglas never met Andrew but got to know him via the wonders of the interwebby thing.

And look at the affection for him on Twitter.

I think he did know how much he we appreciated him. I hope he did. We are so going to miss him. was surprised and humbled to be invited to Andrew’s civil partnership celebration late last year. When I asked Caron why I had been invited, she said “because you’re part of the family now.” Andrew was certainly the Dad of that family. The photo below is from that happy said “because you’re part of the family now.” Andrew was certainly the Dad of that family. The photo below is from that happy day, and how he was on that day is how I want to remember him. Rest in peace friend, it is the absolute least you deserve. 


Ellen Arnison said...

I hadn't heard. I'm so sad to hear that.
I only met Andrew once in person, but after that we met in cyberspace several times. My deepest sympathies to his partner, family and friends.

Andrew Dakers said...

A sad day for the Liberal Democrat family. Some of my earliest memories as a party activist are out working for Vince Cable in the 2001 general election. Who was at the heart of the operation and always there to greet us back at Campaign HQ? Andy. Hugely motivating, determined, but also so very kind. Rare qualities to find packaged so well in a person. We'll miss you.

subrosa said...

Auch Caron, how terribly sad. He was always kind on Twitter and knew I appreciated his photography very much.

Condolences to all who knew and loved him.

Neil M said...

This posting is so tenderly written it has taken me three attempts to get to the end of it. Andrew's personality shines through this.

Munguin said...

Caron: I'm really sorry to hear that terribly sad news.

What can I say other than I enjoyed Andrew's blog with its fresh and witty perspective. He will be greatly missed by all.


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