Long-standing colleague Terry Coyle sadly passed away on the evening of Thursday 13 July 2023 after a period of illness. Nerve Centre's Martin Melarkey and John Peto pay tribute to this quiet, calm, patient and hardworking man who was never without a smile on his face.
In the mid 1990s, Terry was one of a group of talented and creative individuals who signed up for Nerve Centre’s first full-time multimedia training course and remained to become our core digital media production team. This was a time of significant change for Nerve Centre as the rapid advances in new digital technologies and the advent of the internet enabled us to integrate the separate disciplines of music composition, sound recording, film, video and animation.
Terry’s skills as a technical manager played an integral role in Nerve Centre’s transformation into a production house for dynamic digital media education resources. Several years were invested in creating rich multimedia content for the Symbols CD-Roms on 1916 and 1798, and Terry had responsibility for collating and managing all of the audio and video interviews, images, illustrations, photographs, maps, animations and text. This was a highly ambitious undertaking, breaking new ground for Nerve Centre, but Terry’s quiet patience, unstinting work ethic, eternal optimism and calm attention to detail ensured that the projects reached a level of professionalism that we could all be proud of.
Terry had an avid interest in archives and he became the key driving force behind the creation of the North West Digital Film Archive, a mammoth production that brought together over 90 hours of Super8 home movie footage, television programmes, films and video content on Derry and Donegal. For almost two decades, he worked at a grassroots level in Derry helping local communities record and digitally archive their history. During City of Culture 2013, Terry was part of the Portrait of a City team based at the Rath Mor Centre in Creggan and he went on to work in The Forge project, archiving the history of the Shantallow community.
Terry continued his links with Shantallow, providing technical leadership to the FabSocial project — bringing cutting-edge digital design and manufacturing skills to the wider Shantallow community, while helping to develop creativity, job skills and ambition with young and old alike there.
Outside of Nerve Centre, Terry used his talent in photography to pursue his love of nature. Again this is where his Zen-like calm and patience came into it’s own. He could wait for hours silently watching wildlife until the sudden appearance of an otter would bring his camera to life.
Terry was a patient, positive and kind-hearted person, generous with his time and his technical knowledge, and he had a deep personal commitment to employing digital technologies for social change and community empowerment. He approached life and work with a smile on his face and genuine desire to help in a gentle, supportive and very human manner.
His professional legacy will live on in the many people whom he inspired to learn digital skills — from school children to senior citizens — and in the rich archival material that will be available to local communities for generations to come. His personal legacy may best be measured by the affection and esteem in which he is held by the many people that worked alongside him over his long association with Nerve Centre, where he will be forever remembered with a smile and with love.
Martin Melarkey and John Peto