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I promised Gerry I'd write my life story - Melanie

MELANIE Verwoerd has revealed that her late partner Gerry Ryan made her promise that she would write her story.

The former South African ambassador and human rights campaigner has written a memoir called When We Dance, which will be released later this year.

The book is an account of her life from her upbringing in South Africa's Afrikaner heartland.

In the book, she writes movingly about her relationship with RTE star Gerry Ryan, who was found dead in his Dublin apartment on April 30, 2010, and her struggle since his death.

Melanie has spoken of the void her partner's death left in her life.

"I will always love him. I will always miss him," she has said. She described him as "funny, clever, generous, kind and gentle".

And she said that Gerry was a great father figure, not only to his five children, but also to her two children.



anniversary

Earlier this year, his widow Morah and the couple's five children marked the second anniversary of his death privately at home in Clontarf. He was a devoted dad to Lottie (26), Rex (22), Bonnie (18), Elliott (15) and Babette (11).

An informed source said that there would be no comment from the Ryan family in relation to the new book.

Melanie Verwoerd said of her book: "From a young age, the importance of having a voice -- and using it -- has been the cornerstone of my life.

"Two men in particular have urged me to do so: Nelson Mandela before I entered South African politics, and Gerry Ryan who made me promise to write my story.'

She was left devastated by the death of the television and radio star.

She has previously described how she and Gerry Ryan first met in 2004 when she was South African ambassador to Ireland and he interviewed her on his radio show.

Melanie played a major role in South Africa's journey from apartheid to democracy, and the book details her involvement with the African National Congress, of which she was one of the few white members.

It also outlines how she came to be elected as an MP in South Africa and her friendships with Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, as well as her work in Ireland as South African ambassador and formerly as executive director of Unicef Ireland.



moving

Liberties Press yesterday announced that the book will be published on October 10.

Publisher Sean O'Keeffe says: "We are delighted to be publishing this wonderful memoir. It is a beautifully written and incredibly moving book.

"We hope it will reach as wide a readership as possible, both here in Ireland and internationally."

hnews@herald.ie