HepSA Community News

In Memory of Mark Tiller

Tributes to a sorely missed colleague

Mark Tiller started working in harm reduction as a volunteer with SAVIVE and later came to Hepatitis SA as a member of the Clean Needle Program (CNP) team. He died earlier this year after a long period of illness, and will be sorely missed by his colleagues and friends at Hepatitis SA.

MARGIE:

Being around Mark when you were in a good people-watching spot, like the pub, was like getting free entertainment. He would chatter away, telling me life stories about each person in the pub. When I say life stories that’s exactly what I mean. He would tell me details about their childhood, what their parents were like, family trips, birthday parties, school life, the first girlfriend that was nasty—everything. Down to the wart on their foot that talks and abuses people. How they can’t wear sandals because the wart gets them beaten up. Mark’s mind was quick and he was whip-smart. Much of his humour was very dark and went over people’s heads.

Mark and I had a love for B-grade movies. The trashier the better. We would spend hours watching the worst movies and giggling our heads off. In the last few years both of us struggled to stay awake. I’d fall asleep straight away and wake up half way through just as he was falling asleep. So maybe we didn’t see that many recently. So many times I would go to bed just as Mark was putting another DVD on. When I got up in the morning the same movie was still playing. A few times I dared to get up and turn it off after he had been asleep for hours.

Now every time I see a bad sunset, I’ll think of Mark

“Hey! What? Hmf! GRRRRR! I was watching that!” Every time.

The last time I saw Mark we decided to go to Windy Point to watch the sunset. We trotted off with snacks and drinks, in anticipation of the beautiful feat of nature that is a dazzling sunset. As the sunset got lower we diligently kept our eyes focussed on the horizon. Didn’t want to miss it.

One minute the sun was there, the next it was gone. No orange sky, no colours, no nothing. It was the worst sunset either of us had ever seen. We just sat there staring waiting for something to happen. It didn’t.

Now every time I see a bad sunset, I’ll think of Mark.

I don’t think I have come to terms with Mark not being here anymore. I am still expecting a txt at 11:30pm telling me ‘Blackula” is on Channel 44.

I feel privileged that Mark let me into his world. He held his friends close to his heart at all times. I am going to miss him terribly. He was unique.

CAROL:

Mark had a vast knowledge of harm reduction and safer injecting and, as the Noarlunga CNP peer, Mark was well known to many in the southern community. I’m sure I won’t be the only one who will miss Mark’s larrikin sense of humour.

BERNADETTE:

It is a terrible loss to our community. He will be sadly missed by so many. Mark was a wonderful mentor and extremely knowledgeable on all things related to harm reduction and safe injecting practices. He was easy to talk to about anything and everything. He had a no-nonsense approach with the clients, not allowing anyone to pull the wool over his eyes, knowing if you give ‘em an inch, they will take a mile. He used that last quote often, in a joking manner. He had a wonderful sense of humour, and he would often make me laugh. He never seemed to let things faze him.

When he did get unwell and had increasing bouts of absent days, all the regular clients would ask after him, and they would send their wishes, want him to get well and get back. Many of the Noarlunga clients that knew him at work (and in the community after hours) thought he was a top bloke and wanted to know he was OK. Everyone wanted to know that he was getting better. I myself never thought I’d see the day he wasn’t here—until retirement, that is. It was such a shock, and so heartbreaking to hear he’s no longer with us. I will miss him greatly and remember him fondly.

LISA:

Whenever I saw Mark, I would get a Grong Grong soundtrack in my head, or tunes from other Adelaide punk/grungy bands, in particular the lyric, “I’ve got a little story to tell, ‘bout a man, said he came from hell…”. We would often share memories of bands such as Grong Grong, Exploding White Mice, and a multitude of others. We’d recall the stickiness of the floor at the Tivoli and laugh. He had a great laugh—if you knew him, you can hear it in your head now, can’t you? Mark himself is his own bit of Adelaide history and will be missed by many, including me. Rest however you want to, Mark.

PENNI:

Mark’s wit, knowledge and support to teammates will be remembered and missed.

JUSTIN:

Mark was someone who helped me look at things from different perspectives, and always pulled me up when my information or ideas about delivering harm reduction messages started to go off-track. I always appreciated having him as a sounding board in our meetings and group emails. He will be missed.