BY all accounts, John Auld was a caring and decent man, always ready to do a good turn for anyone.
It was this willingness to help others – coupled with his courage – that led to the former Royal Engineer’s tragic death in Tranent last year.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard yesterday how he intervened to try to protect his boss Brahim Hamouda when he came under attack from drunken louts for no good reason, only to pay with his own life.
In an age when many of us feel threatened or intimidated by the feral behaviour we sometimes see, especially among young men who have been drinking too much alcohol, we instinctively admire those who are willing to stand up and be counted.
And we have good reason to be grateful to John and his like, for the world would be a far poorer place without them.
The sad truth is that the risks they run in behaving as bravely as they do can sometimes be too high.
Nothing, of course, that can be done now will ever bring John back to his loved ones, but his family and many friends can take some consolation in seeing justice done.
There is only one way that can happen now after Steven Archibald and Michael Sutherland admitted killing him after a drinking session. And that is by the courts sending them both to jail for as long as the law will allow.
That would not only reassure those who knew John that his sacrifice was properly appreciated by society at large, it would also show the wider public that the law is on their side.
Right now, we need to see that the courts are ready – just like John Auld – to protect us when we feel that our safety is under threat.
As the temperature struggles to nudge above freezing and snow and sleet batters the Lothians, it is hard to imagine a less appealing prospect.
Dipping a toe in the sea at the moment would be a foolhardy escapade, let alone doing the full monty.
But cancer fundraisers are convinced they can find hundreds of people brave enough to bare all and make a splash for charity in East Lothian, setting a new world record (yes, one does exist already) for the largest skinny dip yet.
Good luck to them for what sounds like a fun event. And while the exact time and location remains a mystery, there is at least one piece of good news for potential entrants – thankfully the dip is happening in June.