Michael Gerard obituary

Sushila Moles

My father, Michael Gerard, who has died aged 73, was a teacher with a great passion for music. He was proud to have founded the Greenshoots Ceilidh Orchestra in Leicester 25 years ago, and he also played with the city’s Clarendon Park Orchestra from its inception, as well as the Leicester Community Concert Band and the Afro-city Swingsters, the Regenerates and the Jazz Workshop Band. Whatever the genre, he just loved to play.

Michael was born in Beckenham, Kent, to Frances (nee Kent), an illustrator, and her husband, Arthur, a civil servant. At school in London at Dulwich College he discovered a great fondness for the violin, which he played from the age of eight. He went on to the University of Durham in the mid-1960s and there met Caroline Moles, a fellow student. They bonded over shared interests in opera and politics and lived together for the next 50 years, although they did not marry until a few years ago.

After Michael trained as a teacher in Newcastle they moved to Leicestershire, where he worked for 10 years at Lutterworth High school before moving to teach visually impaired children at South Lodge school in Leicester. He loved that work, which suited his caring nature, and as a bit of a hoarder he always had a good collection of noisy toys and other artefacts that he would bring in to help children to manage their visual impairments. While at South Lodge he trained to be a specialist teacher of visually impaired children, and he did that job that around Leicestershire for the next 20 years until retiring due to ill health in 2004.

Michael always had a busy social life and loved to be involved in his local community, especially if it involved music. His infectious enthusiasm spanned many genres and only two months ago he played at my daughter’s pre-school to facilitate a mini barn dance for the three-year-olds.

He was also heavily involved in the Woodcraft Folk for more than 30 years, during which time he set up the first Leicester Venturer Group (for over 13s) and contributed to many camps. As a firm atheist, another big part of his life was the Leicester Secular Society, of which he became president and for which he organised its regular Sunday programme of speakers.

He was a loving, kind and supportive father who made up daily limericks and entertained me with bizarre conversations. He genuinely took delight in everything I did and he was one of a kind.

He is survived by Caroline and me, and by his grandchildren, Elwood and Mika.