In a week when the frailties and weaknesses of some men have dominated news flow let us go into the weekend remembering a man from the other end of the spectrum where integrity, loyalty and goodness lie.
Former WO1 (GSM) Alan G 'Perry' Mason MVO MBE, Coldstream Guards died at the age of 70 on Tuesday. The word 'Legend,' has become diluted through chronic overuse but to some it genuinely applies. Garrison Sergeant Major 'Perry,' Mason is such a man.
Alan Mason enlisted into the Coldstream Guards at the Middlesborough Recruiting Office on the 8th May 1962 at the age of 15 as a Junior Guardsman. In his 40 year career as a Coldstream Guardsman he saw service in Aden, Malta, Cyprus, Zimbabwe, Northern Ireland, BAOR, Hong Kong and as an instructor at the Guards Depot at Pirbright and at Sandhurst. It is though, as Garrison Sergeant Major of London District for 15 years that he is more widely known.
In 1987 he took over from GSM Alex Dumon, (I once had a 5 min hairdryer of an interview without coffee from Black Alec but thats another story). GSM Mason was awarded the MBE in The Queen's Birthday Honours List in 1991 and awarded the MVO in Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother's 100th Birthday Honours List in August 2000. In his final three years he took charge of the Queen's Golden Jubilee, the Queen Mother's 100th Birthday and, sadly, her Lying in State and funeral.
He retired in 2002, marking his retirement with a lone march past Her Majesty The Queen, (which was sprung on him only minutes before).
There will be many Coldstreamers drinking to his memory this weekend. I'm not a Coldstreamer but I might join them in a dram all the same.