The kindness of strangers – it’s an often-used phrase; and one that’s been recited quite a lot recently, referencing those who turned out to help families and businesspeople left stricken by the recent floods.
The city did itself proud once again, in an entirely quieter, gentler way.
Dozens of wellwishers heeded an appeal published in the Yorkshire Evening Post this weekend to attend the funeral of the wonderful gentleman Harry Thrush, the modest Second World War veteran who devoted his final years to supporting families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by attending their funerals in recognition of their sacrifice.
As befitted an extraordinary individual, Harry’s 90th birthday was marked in 2014 by troops sending a message of thanks from Camp Bastion. Yesterday his coffin was draped in the Union flag and The Last Post sounded as his funeral in Leeds drew to a close.
In a way, Harry represented all of us – the ordinary people of Leeds – when he stood to attention remembering those who gave their lives in service. And, in turn, those who stood in church yesterday to say farewell to him, represented the quiet voice of the city of Leeds too.
Indeed, given the number of service personnel and strangers who accepted an invitation to attend, it not only showed the strength and tightness of the military family, but also the enduring importance of honouring those who went to war to defend hard-won liberties.
Farewell Harry – and thank you.