A YOUNG Scots Guardsman has returned to Lanark from Afghanistan, bringing with him memories of comrades who won't be coming home this Christmas.
Guardsman Gavin Dickson is only 26 but already had ten years' army service and two tours of Iraq behind him when he was posted to the most dangerous place on the planet earlier this year.
Now he is back and wants everyone to know just how it feels to have survived to see in Ne'erday at home, these celebrations tempered by thoughts of friends for whom 2010 was to be the final year of their young lives.
Gavin told the Gazette: "I can think of 16 separate events that are tragic and only a handful of instances that would make me smile but somehow I find myself dwelling on Afghanistan fondly.
"Love for one another and lasting friendships, as so often is the case, were formed. Through all the hardship of a tour of duty the men of Right Flank (Gavin's company) have given 100 percent to one another but none as much as L/Sgt David Walker who gave his life."
The real impact of what had happened to him and those around him at the front only really hit him two weeks ago after he'd received his campaign medal at a regimental ceremony and how that simple piece of metal acts as a constant reminder of friends lost.
Said Gavin: "Receiving a medal is a proud moment but brings with it great sadness. I know that every time I look at this medal, I will remember what real service is and what it cost.
"It's such a little thing – just an ounce or so of silver - but it's worth a mountain of gold to me."
For more on Gavin's story, pick up a copy of this week's Lanark Gazette which is in the shops now.