It is almost three years to the day since the proud old soldier gave his final salute, just shy of his 96th birthday.
His was a terrific innings, partly aided by a stringent routine you could set your watch by - a discipline drilled into him during six years of service in World War Two.
It is not an exaggeration to say these were his defining years - largely dark times, filled with immense hardship and tragedy but also a period which provided him with a lifetime of treasured memories. He was just 18 when war was declared, meaning everything he experienced during that long campaign gave him a context against which he could measure all future challenges. This was the case for all of my grandparents, their own parents and siblings, and millions of others who endured one of the most challenging periods in history.
The vast majority of this remarkable generation is no longer around to give us the guidance we so desperately need during a period that is making so many of us feel like shouting ‘stop the world, I want to get off’. How we could do with their sage advice as we learn to live with the consequences of the pandemic which is currently wreaking havoc and forcing billions of us to redefine how we live our lives. Over the past couple of weeks, much like almost everybody I have spoken to, I have endured almost every emotion imaginable - panic, fear, uncertainty, not to mention a degree of embarrassment for feeling all of the above, when I think of how my grandad and his pals faced the most unimaginable of challenges with nothing but a stoic smile.
The Old Man would often regale me with tales of how good the wartime camaraderie really was, remembering simple acts of kindness.
Much of the frustrations being vented by millions of us are largely due to a collective sense of helplessness, born of the fact we have no idea how or when this will end. We need to remain calm - my grandad would’ve known what to do.