Page last updated at 16:50 GMT, Monday, 20 July 2009 17:50 UK

WWI veteran 'part of our family'

Dennis Goodwin with Henry Allingham
Dennis Goodwin co-wrote Henry Allingham's autobiography

The couple who spent the past 10 years looking after Henry Allingham have paid their tribute to the World War I veteran following his death.

Mr Allingham, the world's oldest man, died aged 113 in Ovingdean, near Brighton, on Saturday.

Dennis and Brenda Goodwin, of Worthing, Sussex, said they would remember him as part of their family.

Mr Goodwin said the times they spent in schools talking to pupils about the war would be very close to his heart.

Mr Goodwin, who founded the First World War Veterans' Association, said Mr Allingham was a recluse when he first met him.

In recent years, he started making public appearances to make sure new generations did not forget the toll of war.

Mr Goodwin acted as Mr Allingham's chaperone when he travelled to events to keep the memory of those who fell in World War I alive.

He also co-wrote a book about Mr Allingham's life which was published in September 2008.

Mr Goodwin said: "Henry had two ways to do things - the wrong way, or Henry's way.

He was just a very interesting wonderful gentleman - I never thought of him as being old, because he wasn't
Brenda Goodwin

"My lasting memories, I think, would be the period we spent together in the schools, talking to children and answering their questions and again when we visited military establishments.

"He would say to me after we'd been in one of the mess halls of the armed establishment, 'It takes me back to the good old days in the war. I miss the company of military kinship'."

Mr Goodwin's wife, Brenda, said she hoped he would remind people of the veterans who returned home after World War I and had to rebuild their lives.

She added: "He was just a very interesting wonderful gentleman. I never thought of him as being old, because he wasn't.

Public image

"He used to enjoy singing, telling jokes and just being friendly and happy."

Our life with world's oldest man

She added: "The only thing I can hope is that his public image will remain with people for quite a long time and that will remind people of that generation, not the ones who died, the ones that came back and had to make a new life with no help from anyone.

"I think that's what he should represent and he should not be forgotten.

"He lived with us, he's been part of our lives. Because he had no family in this country we created a family for him and he's been involved with our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

"To us he was part of our lives, part of our family."

Mr Allingham served with the Royal Naval Air Service in WWI and later the Royal Air Force at the time of its creation.

His funeral will take place later this month at St Nicholas' Church in Brighton.

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