Tom Howat (known as Tam to his military mates) served in the REME, having left as a W02.  Later he decided to help other veterans who have fallen on hard times generally with homelessness issues.  Tom worked for another large charity, when he contacted Forces Online, and he and I became friends and later Tom joined Forces Online CIC as a director working towards what is now Forces Online CIO and Forces Online Scotland which is a unique "Cross-Border" veterans’ charity.  I have always been a bit of an ideas person often back then wanting to speedily push ahead with my ideas, whereas Tom was much steadier and a great list writer and tick-box person with a steady approach to moving forward.

Then on a sunny day in November 2016, Tom and I met in Piccadilly, central London to have a meeting with another well-known employment organisation who Tom was friendly with.  We had a jolly time two older veterans together in London. I worked in central London many moons ago when I initially left the Royal Green Jackets and worked in what was then the tallest building in London, and this was completely dwarfed by the new tower block now surrounding it.

Following a chat in a café in Piccadilly which was packed with people, Tom worked through his long list of where he though the organisation was heading and his to do list of what was needed now, Following this we walked along the banks of the Thames chatting.   We missed the meeting venue being so carried away and had to walk back to it.  Tom had a hip operation a while ago, but this did not stop him enjoying the walk.  I did ask him a few times if he was okay, and he just said yes.

We had a great meeting with the employment agency and how we might help each other a spread the word about our own plans. I knew that Tom was working at Somerset House later and following the meeting we crossed the river and found ourselves walking up Fleet Street.  I could see that Tom was staring to get uncomfortable with walking, so it was no surprise to me that when going past a bus stop where a bus pulled in that he asked the driver if he was going anywhere near Somerset House, and he replied that yes he was passing it.

Tom got on the bus and said he would call me tomorrow, I tried to ask him where the nearest underground was to get back to Fulham where I had left my car earlier in the day, he just said he did not know just keep walking you will find one, and to this day I am not sure why I did not get on the bus with him.

The following morning, I woke to the news that Tom had suffered from health issues just a few minutes of leaving me and passed away.

At Tom's funeral I told the family that the Charity Restricted fund would be in Tom's name and her over six years later its finally officially happening.  Rest in peace old friend.

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