AS THE public faces of Capital of Culture year recently said their goodbyes and thank-yous, there was one person, in particular, they wanted to single out.

Phil Taylor might not have been in the limelight, but for 20 years worked behind the scenes as Liverpool Council?s arts development manager.

Speaking on the eve of retirement after a 35-year career, he said Liverpool?s cultural life was ?energised? by its culture year success.

Mr Taylor was instrumental in helping to secure grants and funding, and working between parties to forge partnerships and get artistic endeavours of all sizes off the ground, from small writers? groups to the opening of the Fact centre.

Mr Taylor, 51, began working with the council just days after receiving his A-level results.

His time with library services, where he spent 10 years at Central and Toxteth libraries, incorporated projects including one of the most poignant local tributes to the Hillsborough tragedy.

He said: ?I was given a poem by a fireman who was at Hillsborough.

?The librarian in me kicked in and I thought ?why not put out the call for more?, because so many people were touched by it.

?We created an archive and ended up with more than 1,000 pieces of poetry and prose.?

A small collection of those works, simply titled Words of Tribute, had three sell-out print runs. The possibility of a 20th anniversary edition is being mooted.

He moved on in the early 1990s to become a writing officer, organising writing and poetry workshops, exchanges and readings.

Moving on to arts development officer, and then manager, the most exciting times were still to come.

He said: ?I never imagined when I sat in the Municipal Buildings, in June, 1975, I would be part of the team involved in the city?s 800th birthday celebrations and then being part of something which is not going to come to this city again in my lifetime.?

by Vicky Anderson, Liverpool Daily Post