Mark Lusby leaves behind a legacy that benefits everyone in Derry

Mark LusbyMark Lusby
Mark Lusby
​On Saturday, my phone lit up as friends and colleagues across the North started texting me videos from social media of near 2000 happy people lined up the full length of Shipquay Street to “Rock the Boat” for the Foyle Hospice.

​Comments like “if humour was a tradable commodity you’d be as rich as Dubai!” and “very typically Derry. People really love coming together for a wee record attempt”.

It is true, we love coming together, particularly to help others less fortunate and to share an experience. We do serious things without taking ourselves too seriously.

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The scenes reminded me of a similar coming together back in the 2013 and a good friend and lover of Derry, Mark Lusby, who sadly lost his life last month.

I have very many fond memories of Mark dating back to his time in Economic Development with the Council before ‘working on The Walls’.

Sitting over a cuppa on the wee café in the Verbal Arts Centre at the start of 2013, we tried to cook up some ideas to ensure The Walls had a place in the City of Culture year. We hatched a plan based on architectural drawings where a red line demarcated the demise of a property. “How about we invite thousands of people onto the Walls, dressed in red t-shirts and we do a Mexican wave!”.

Thousands turned up including authentically costumed characters, the Dean of St Columbs Cathedral with his congregation and the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and his lovely pet dog.

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Without much prompting the people of Derry just automatically fanned themselves out from the Guildhall and along the entire circumference of the Walls. A quick countdown of 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 and they started raising their arms in the air, automatically clockwise around the Walls before eventually returning to the bastion outside the cathedral.

And they just kept going. In fact, it was hard to get them to stop!

Back at the Guildhall, one man came to me, in his 70s, who said that was the first time in his life that he’d been up on the Walls overlooking the Bogside where he’d grown up and lived all his life. He saw the Walls as a place where the military observed his community. Never considered the Walls as his. Until that day.

It was a powerful moment of collective serendipity brought about only by someone with a simple idea who was brave enough to execute it but safe in the knowledge that when invited, Derry people turn up, take part, and involve others.

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It was terribly sad news of learn of Mark’s passing. But he leaves behind what all real leaders understand to be the most important thing… a legacy.

We have a strong appreciation for our built heritage, for our history and a new relationship with our old City Walls.

Thank you and rest in peace, Mark.