ITV journalist Gary Burgess has passed away at age 46, following a terminal cancer diagnosis in November 2020.
In a final message, which Burgess wrote for ITV to release after his death, the journalist said that he had lived “the best life” and “the luckiest life”.
Who was Gary Burgess?
Burgess was an ITV journalist, born in Manchester in 1975. At six years old, Burgess and his family moved to South Africa. He returned to the UK for secondary school, and began his career in 1922 in Blackpool at Radio Wave.
It was during his time with Radio Wave that Burgess set a world record for the longest radio show after having stayed on the air for 76 hours in a bid to raise money for a new cancer unit in Blackpool.
Burgess left the station nine years later having been a newsreader, breakfast show presenter and programme controller.
He went on to manage different radio stations across England and Scotland before joining Island FM in Guernsey in 2003. After three years as a breakfast show presenter at BBC Radio Guernsey, Burgess moved to ITV Channel TV in 2011 as a Guernsey reporter.
In 2012, he moved to Jersey and in 2021, he was nominated as journalist of the year at the prestigious Royal Television Society Awards. In August of that year, Burgess was also awarded the prestigious Silver Seal, by Jersey’s Bailiff, which recognised his contributions to journalism over his career.
Karen Rankine, Head of News at ITV Channel TV, described Burgess as having “a huge heart” and an “inspirational role model”.
She said: “His journalism has had an enormous impact across the Channel Islands.
“He leaves an enduring legacy, not just through the stories he told, the people he touched and the friendships he built, but for many journalists, he was an inspirational role model and mentor who helped shape so many careers.”
Was he married?
Burgess married his long term partner Alan in 2018, and the two became the first same-sex couple in Jersy to convert their civil partnership into a marriage after the island legalised same-sex marriage later that year.
Their marriage certificate is number one on the conversion register.
Writing about the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Jersey, Burgess wrote in an article for ITV: “How will same sex marriages affect those who oppose the idea? Answer: they won’t. They’ll still be free to hate the idea.
“The difference is that I will now be free to marry the man I love.”
What did Gary Burgess say about his diagnosis?
In 1999, Burgess first received a testicular cancer diagnosis which, at the time, was successfully treated with surgery and chemotherapy.
Over the years, Burgess had further treatments following relapses, and in November 2020 was given a terminal cancer diagnosis, with a life expectancy of six to 12 months.
Burgess shared a blog post in which he discussed his diagnosis, writing that “hearing you’re going to die is odd”.
He wrote: “It’s a strange, other worldly experience, to think there may only be one more birthday, one more Christmas, one more wedding anniversary.
“It immediately washed over me like the most overwhelming sea of guilt to think that my husband is likely going to be alone at home without me. Our holidays. Our watching telly on the sofa. Our weekend breakfasts down the west coast. I won’t be there to laugh or nag or snuggle up in his lap.”
He ended the post by writing: “I’m not dying. I’m living. It’s just that I’ve got less of it to do so it’s my obligation to make it matter more.”
When did he die?
Burgess passed away on New Year’s Day, Saturday 1 January 2022.
Burgess’ husband Alan released a statement through ITV announcing the news of his death.
In the statement, Alan said: “It is with great sadness that I need to announce the death of my wonderful husband Gary on Saturday 1 January.
“After many years of fighting cancer, Gary died peacefully in his sleep in Jersey Hospice.”
In his statement, Alan thanked “all of the many people and services within Jersey, and also at Southampton General Hospital, who have cared for Gary so well over the last seven years through all of the different stages of this disease”.
He also thanked the Jersey Hospice and the CLinical Investigations team from Jersey’s hospital, “who together enabled Gary to stay safely and comfortably at home for as long as possible in accordance with his wishes”.
Ending his statement, Alan said: “In an attempt to avoid cliché, I am just going to misquote a line of dialogue from the final episode of The West Wing, being one of Gary’s favourite programmes and something said with love and pride by one spouse to the other.
“You did a lot of good, Gary. A lot of good.”
Burgess also wrote a final message, written for ITV to release after his death, in which he said he had had “the best life” and “the luckiest life.”
He wrote: “I met my soulmate and the love of my life who went on to become my husband.
“I got to work with some of the most amazing people in newsrooms and studios doing the job I absolutely adore.
“I’ve been able to share my own relatively short time on this planet surrounded by friends and loved ones who have enriched my life in ways they may never truly understand.
“My greatest sadness is the prospect of leaving all of that and all of them behind.
“The thought of doing that to Alan is unfathomable to process, but I also know the very people who’ve shown me love and support will now wrap up those feelings around him in the coming days.
“It’s time for me to hand over my microphone and keyboard for others to do the talking about me, so let my final words simply be ‘thank you’.
“Every person in my life has, in their own way, helped me live my best life. That’ll do.”
Tributes for Gary Burgess
Following the news of his death, many have taken to sharing tributes online for the journalist.
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