Michael’s greatest loves in his life were his family and friends; Bess, the family dog who he referred to as his favourite girl in life; and his absolute passion – music. Michael was just 18 when he died. He had recently celebrated his birthday at home with his friends the month before he was so cruelly taken from us all. For his birthday he had recently bought a vintage amp to complement his beloved white Strat and his acoustic guitars. Music was his life and it was also the future he had planned. His musical genre was vast with influences from Ray Charles to Pink Floyd, but his absolute idol was Jimi Hendrix.
From a very early age Michael had a passion for reading and writing and would spend every waking moment immersed in a book. He had read the trilogy of Tolkiens, Lord of the Rings, by the time he reached secondary school and his book collection ran into the hundreds. When he was only 8 years old he knew he wanted to be a writer and would attend any book signing he could find just to speak with the authors. He wrote short stories and poems and would often recite them at competitions.
At the age of 13, he picked up his first guitar and it was obvious he had a natural talent to play. His love of writing soon became the basis for his love of song writing as his guitar skills gained momentum at a rapid pace. His technical ability was noted by everybody who saw him play and he started up a band Storm in a Teacup, quickly shortened to Storm with his friends at 13. A few years later they became Hostile Radio and gained a following on the local music scene. At 16 Michael and the lead singer went it alone and would frequent local bars and clubs with their duo as they planned for a future in music.
Still at college and only 17, Michael wrote the music and lyrics to Rise and Fall which was released with his friend Alex Evans on vocals following his death. The song reached the Top 40 and was number 6 in The Independent Singles Charts. The guitar solo at the end and the resounding lyrics received much acclaim from Brian May, James Morrison and many others.
Michael at 6ft 6inches tall was hard to miss. He had a smile that lit up a room and the bluest, striking eyes. Beyond his seemingly charming exterior lay a wicked sense of humour and Michael was renowned for his funny jokes and antics but you never wanted to be on the receiving end of them.
Michael loved life. He was often referred to as the glue and the jam that held us together not just with his music but with his warmth and passion for so many things. He truly was beautiful both inside and out and his death has left a void so big that it is hard to imagine a future without him in it. He had a gentle, caring side to his nature that was beyond his years, and like most artists there was a sensitive side to him too.
He has left a legacy in his short life and achieved more than many would in a full lifetime. He was one of life’s characters that you never forget who had a lot more to offer and a talent that will never get the chance to be fully recognised. He is missed every second of every day and for many he is still around us with his music and his passion for life. We bring him along with us on all of our journeys and you will often see his flag at gigs, or trips as though he is just watching from above.
The term ‘legends never die’ has become synonymous with Michael and that feels about right for somebody who touched the life of everybody he met and continues to do so even after he has gone.
Kerry was 23 when she died. She was one of those people who loved life and all the people in it. She squeezed so much into her short life and touched many people in the process. The tragedy is, there was so much more still to come. She loved socialising and would be in Liverpool City Centre most weekends with her friends and she would make more friends every weekend. I regularly meet people, even now, some I know, and some I don't, who say to me how much they miss seeing Kerry’s happy smiling face.
I honestly believe she touched the heart of everyone she met, she was able to make everyone feel special, whether she had known them all her life or met them just that night. She was a caring, beautiful soul who was concerned about everyone and would go out of her way to make people’s lives (even a little bit) better. Although out every weekend, Sunday evenings were always spent with her sister Kirsty. While Kerry edited her photographs and Kirsty worked on her artwork, they would sit in their pyjamas watching TV, enjoying being in each other's company.
Kerry was an animal lover, she loved her two cats, had been a vegetarian since she was 12 and spent time volunteering at Animals in Need in Melling. She was always reading; never without a book in her bag, she took every opportunity to read. She was a music lover, with eclectic taste and a love for contemporary sounds and the golden oldies. She introduced me to so many new bands that I would otherwise have been unaware of and I introduced her to music from the past. She was a Bob Dylan fanatic, she and I saw him so many times live. She wanted to know everything about him and her room is still full of books about him, his work and his collaborations.
Her love of literature led her to a degree in English at Edge Hill University, where she graduated with a 2:1 in 2012. During her studies, she identified passion for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Following that tragic day in September 2012, her TEFL lecturer contacted me to say how much she loved meeting and teaching Kerry and that she had all the right skills and the personality to be able to make a successful career in this field. After her summer of festivals in 2012, both in the UK and Europe, she had planned to apply to attend a TEFL course in Paris in early 2013. These qualifications, her skills in communicating and understanding people, her love of English and with her desire to travel, made this an ideal future for her.
I know Kerry is still loved, remembered and missed by so many people; when she died her friends planted a tree for her in a park near our home and nearly five years on there are still constantly new flowers, mementos and messages left there.
Losing Kerry has devastated all our lives, not a day goes by without us all thinking of her. It can be really difficult some days, she is with us constantly and through each of our life events. We all get older day by day, but Kerry remains 23. I find with every twist and turn in my life, I have the need to tell her, ask her opinion, seek her advice – whether that be by sitting quietly in her bedroom or talking to her at her tree. She will be in our hearts always, we will never stop missing her and always love her so dearly.
- A letter from Kerry's parents