The funeral of my friend, Andrew, takes place tomorrow. After a week of trying to come to terms with his death, I wanted to share with you the rich life he enjoyed before he was taken from us. I will miss my friend.
Andrew Reeves, who died suddenly of a heart attack aged 43, was the Scottish Liberal Democrat Director of Campaigns.
Andrew played a significant role in every local, regional and national election in the UK over the last decade, and in the process made many friends from across the political spectrum.
Growing up in Nottingham, Andrew attended Edwalton Primary School and then Rushcliffe School. He was a choir boy and in an early brush with fame was invited to sing on Songs of Praise.
He joined the St John Ambulance service and was regularly on duty at home games for the local ice hockey team, the Nottingham Panthers. This began his lifelong love of the sport, a passion that followed him to Edinburgh where he became an enthusiastic supporter of the Edinburgh Capitals.
Before embarking on his career in politics, Andrew worked as a catering manager at the RSA. There he rubbed shoulders with many famous people, including Judi Dench, Christopher Lee and Johnny Depp – Andrew always did like to name drop.
He started his working association with the Liberal Democrats with Vince Cable MP in 2000, first in his Westminster office before running his constituency re-election campaign in 2001.
Andrew ran the Lambeth-Southwark London Assembly campaign in 2004 and then acted as campaign manager for Simon Hughes MP in the 2005 General Election. Simon, now Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, said of Andrew: “He was a workhorse, a hugely talented campaigner and a source of perpetual wisdom and good advice.”
After running Brian Paddick’s London Mayoral campaign, Andrew brought that wisdom with him when he moved north to become Director of Campaigns for Scotland in 2008. The experience, determination and commitment he had became immediately apparent.
When I met him, I was one of only a handful of full time campaign organisers employed across Scotland. Andrew immediately set to work to increase the breadth and depth of the campaign infrastructure. He succeeded in bringing together a team of campaign organisers in his mould, every one of us dedicated as much to him as to the cause we were fighting for.
Indeed, wherever Andrew worked he was at the core of the team, committed to working hard but having fun at the same time.
During the Glenrothes by-election in 2008, Andrew was famous for wearing the most garish ties imaginable, some of which, he proudly informed us, had been worn by Elton John.
It was, perhaps, because of the mirth his ties attracted that he felt it appropriate to send us all out in the pouring rain with less than half an hour of polling left to knock on doors. I suppose he had the last laugh, but, true to the man, Andrew joined us in the downpour.
As the result of that by-election showed, the political climate often meant that results underplayed the difference he made; he was instrumental in providing support, motivation and strategic direction to Liberal Democrats in Scotland and it was appreciated by all.
Secretary of State for Scotland and friend Michael Moore summed up the feelings of all who worked with Andrew: “Losing Andy is very, very sad – he was the finest of campaigners and a great human being.”
From politics to photography, his beloved cats to gay rights, Andrew blogged about everything that interested him – and it captured the interest of others. Supporters of all political parties and none read his humorous, heartfelt and honest contributions and, after just over 1000 posts, he had built up quite a following.
It is a testament to a man who loved blogging and interacting with people on social networking sites that on the day he died he was the 4th highest trending topic across the UK on Twitter. I think Andrew would have had a wry smile at this. It certainly underlines the number of people he touched in his life.
His laugh was infectious, his glass always half full. Andrew knew that life was for living, a lesson that will not be lost of the great many people who will miss him immensely.
Andrew is survived by his husband Roger, sister Jen, and two cats Loco and Tazzer.