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'I have lost my real dad' - Gerry's ex in mourning again

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Melanie Verwoerd with partner Gerry Ryan before the presenter’s death in April 2010

Melanie Verwoerd with partner Gerry Ryan before the presenter’s death in April 2010

Melanie Verwoerd with partner Gerry Ryan before the presenter’s death in April 2010

Gerry Ryan's former partner has spoken of the heartache at losing her stepfather just over a month after the 10th anniversary of the DJ's death.

Melanie Verwoerd (53), a one-time South African ambassador to Ireland, now lives in South Africa and has distanced herself from her once high-profile life here.

The diplomat-turned- journalist dated Ryan after he split from his wife Morah in 2008 until his sudden death on April 30, 2010.

Counted

On the day of the 10th anniversary, Ms Verwoerd revealed she still counted the days since she found Ryan dead in his apartment on Leeson Street.

Now, just over a month later, she told how she has now lost the second most important man in her life - her stepfather Philip du Toit Fourie.

It has not been an easy few months for the former ANC MP, who revealed she had contracted Covid-19 at the start of the pandemic.

Yesterday she paid tribute to her stepfather, who "wasn't always my dad, but he became my dad".

"My biological dad sucked at fatherhood," she said.

"In a world where he was either absent or created chaos, Philip provided the quiet, constant safety that all kids need.

"On the morning of his death he stroked my mum's back just before he got up to juice some oranges for her.

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Melanie Verwoed

Melanie Verwoed

Melanie Verwoed

"These loving deeds for his wife of 49 years were the last things he did before his phenomenal brain started bleeding.

"Philip du Toit Fourie was my dad… my real dad. And now I have to say goodbye."

The former charity worker's life appeared to hit a downward spiral in Ireland after the DJ's death when she lost her job as executive ambassador of Unicef Ireland.

Ms Verwoerd issued unfair dismissal proceedings and the case was settled out of court.

She praised her stepfather for providing a calming influence and for being there for all the important times in her life.

"Thank you, dad, for taking me on - I know it could not have been easy," she said.

"Thank you for making my life stable and safe.

"Thank you for walking me down the aisle when I got married and being there for all the important days in my life.

"Thank you for being (furiously) on my side when I got divorced.

"Thank you for being such a proud and loving grandfather to my children.

"Thank you for being such a good husband to my mum - for making her happy again and giving her faith in life after her first marriage.

"I will miss you terribly."