Like many people, I watched some of George Best’s funeral on the television recently. I suppose, also like many, I was a fan, and to me he was a bit of a hero. However, a few days later, one of the real heroes of my life also died. The third member of my family to do battle with cancer, my brother Des, died, after what is so often called a ‘short illness’. Memories of playing with him in the garden, shouting from the sidelines as he played rugby, singing with him, or just sharing a quiet pint of beer, eclipsed any of the feelings of sadness that I had experienced – in that slightly disjointed way we do – with the heroes I have known from screens and newspapers. In 57 short years he had achieved so much. I know it’s inevitable that many of the great moments of a person’s life are erased by our last memories of them. But as we carried his coffin from the church, to a backdrop of his voice singing from the CD he and his band had made, the strength and composure of his sons, daughters and wife was such an enormous source of stability. As I walked behind his sons, I was walking in the footsteps he had created. I remembered clearly the lesson I had learned when I carried my own father’s coffin from that same church. I remembered the strength I had gained from realising what really mattered in my life. I wish there was an easier way of holding on to the fact that the people that are by our sides, as we learn about the world we live in, are so valuable. The real heroes in our lives are usually so much closer than we know.