In memory of Stephen Kearney

Stephen KearneyA couple of weeks ago my friend Steve Kearney died. It was not really a shock as he has been unwell for quite some time and this has been exacerbated by Shelia’s poor health.

I first met Steve and Shelia at a Medway Liberal Demo
crats exec meeting back in 2010. I hadn’t been long with the party and had decided to leave my comfort bubble by meeting new people and seeing what it was all about. I had just arrived when someone asked me who I was and where I lived.

“Steve! One of yours!”

After a lengthy chat about everything I’d found myself volunteered for deliver Focus leaflets for Sturdee Avenue, Valley Road and Acorn Road but was happy to do it. It wasn’t until I woke up the next morning that I found myself thinking about what I had volunteered to do and how I had got there!

Steve had a long association with the Medway LibDems having sat on the council for some years, even serving as Deputy mayor, and with Gillingham itself. He was well liked by members, residents and politicians from other parties – something I hadn’t really realised until I had posted news of his passing with comments from Rehman Chishti and Vince Maple. I heard a rumour that had he not lost his seat in 2011 then the local Tories were going to offer him the position of Mayor.

I remember sitting with him over the night of the local election count in May 2011 and watching the votes come in. I had to leave him at 6 am as exhaustion set in but when I got home an hour later I got an email saying Steve had lost out. It was gutting for him as he had given his all into the position and only lost out by a handful of votes because of the Coalition.

Steve had amassed a vast array of deliverers across Gillingham South through personal loyalty and friendship. He was warm, friendly, very knowledgeable about history and militeria which he collected in vast swathes. We had several long discussions about military history – our shared passion and the Imperial War Museum (where I work) and Gillingham. He always stopped my wife in the street or at her work and asked after her and my children.

My thoughts and prayers are with Sheila who is recovering from her own operations and has lost her husband of many years right on top of Christmas.

He was a good man and friend and I will miss him.

Chris Sams is an author, Gillingham resident, and executive committee member of the Medway Liberal Democrats.