Next Monday morning, I will be joining hundreds of others at St Wulfram’s to say goodbye to a truly wonderful man, Ian Smith, who died last week aged 96.
Ian was one of life’s enthusiasts. He loved a party. Even as his legs began to fail him and he was forced to use sticks and then a wheelchair, Ian would always make the effort to attend events laid on by the local Conservative association or reunions organised by his old school, Bedford Modern, to which he was rightly proud to have won a scholarship.
And he would lift the spirits of everyone he encountered with his wry comments and delightfully childlike smile.
Ian also loved Grantham. He came here before the war to work for the Grantham Waterworks and returned to the company and the town after wartime service that saw him land on Juno Beach, prepare the ground for German surrender at Luneberg Heath and help liberate a Nazi concentration camp.
But Ian’s love for Grantham did not make him resist change. Quite the reverse.
As the man who designed and built the Gorse Lane water tower, he always wanted the town to grow and prosper.
Ian also loved cars and would tell me stories of his bright pink Lagonda which did less than 10 miles to the gallon, and the rallies he had attended in his 1920 Fiat.
But, most of all, Ian loved Jacky. They met late in his life but, by the grace of God, got to share 30 years of marriage. Like most people lucky enough to enjoy long and happy unions, they were still laughing at each other’s jokes and indulging each other’s foibles right up until the very end.
Grantham is full of people whose lives were enhanced by knowing Ian. As one of the last people to have got to know him, I am proud to have been his friend.