Stephen Gately

It is not often in the oily, bullshit-covered halls of show-business that one comes across much sincerity and authenticity. Such real people form a minority group in fame’s society.

Stephen Gately was one such rare gem; a true light, a true joy and a true pleasure to spend time with. I’d met him on four separate occasions, three times around the same dinner table of a mutual female friend, and once whilst out and about in London.

We swapped numbers because I’m in publishing and he was writing a book. He was, at the time, about to embark on ITV’s Dancing on Ice but he wasn’t raving about that – he was animated and enthused about the children’s fantasy story he was concocting.

He’d had this story in his head for a long-time. He lit-up talking about it; his enthusiasm and belief was writ large on the face that always wore a smile. He was confident about his story but insecure about his story-telling. “Like every writer!” we joked.

He wasn’t interested in writing an autobiography or “writing about myself!” as he said. He wanted to entertain and explore his imagination. He wanted to be a story-teller, to be a JK Rowling!

Even after the life-changing dream he’d experienced with Boyzone, he spoke about fresh successes and new directions. Publishing that book was a personal quest, a thirst to do more, to prove his singular creativity.

You’d never have guessed he’d enjoyed years of adulation atop the music industry. He was unaffected by fame, just blessed by the experience. Both he and his partner Andrew were the easiest, down-to-earth and upbeat couple you could possibly meet.

Stephen’s sudden death in Majorca, at the age of 33, is a travesty. It somehow didn’t surprise me that his last ‘tweet’ was to say that he was finishing his book; eighteen months on since we’d last spoken about it. He’d finally found the time – and then time was taken from him. So I say two prayers now. One, for his family and partner Andrew to find strength at this terrible time. And the other, to pray that Stephen actually did finish or almost finish that book….so that his dream can still get published.

UPDATE on 17 Oct: Ronan Keating told Stephen’s funeral that his family will finish the book “by hook or by crook”

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