He was a war hero who completed some of the most dangerous journeys of the entire Second World War.
And today family, friends and comrades of Arctic Convoy veteran Herbert William “Stormy” Lovegrove gave him a send-off worthy of his lifelong dedication to the service of his country.
Around 500 mourners came to the All Saints Church in Penarth this morning to pay tribute to Stormy, thought to have completed up to nine journeys of the perilous passage to deliver supplies to northern Russia – dubbed by Winston Churchill the “worst journey in the world”.
The grandfather-of-four died due to complications after a fall, just over two months before he was due to receive the newly-created Arctic Star medal at his base at HMS Cambria in Cardiff in August.
The announcement of the medal’s creation by David Cameron only followed a campaign by veterans that lasted decades, and Stormy had spoken out against a bureaucratic block by the UK Government that stopped veterans accepting an honour from Russia for their service.
His widow Mary will accept the medal on his behalf from Prince Michael of Kent.
Having served on the HMS Bermuda during the war, he signed up to the naval reserve after the end of hostilities, remaining a member until the age of 85 – earning the nickname “the oldest man in the British navy” for his lifelong service, earning several medals in the process, including the British Empire Medal.
At a service bathed in sunlight today, Stormy’s coffin was brought into the church flanked by standard bearers from the Penarth branch of the RNLI, while a recording of You Raise Me Up, sung by Josh Groban was played.
As the coffin was taken out into the churchyard following the service, a recording of Rod Stewart’s Sailing accompanied it.
Speaking at the service, Captain Sir Norman Lloyd-Edwards – the former Lord Lieutenant of South Glamorgan – paid generous tribute to Stormy who he described as a “tower of strength.”
He said: “Although he probably regretted not receiving the Arctic Star medal, he was not exactly short of medals.
“Stormy became a member of my family and I would like to think that I was a member of his family
“He was an outgoing personality with a bubbly sense of humour. He was an entertainer and had an indomitable spirit.
“He was a patriot, loyal friend, generous in nature and eager to help others. He was a man of grit and determination who enhanced the lives of so many of us.”
Stormy’s son Ross said: “I was dreading this day, but it is really such a privilege to be here and to see all these people.
“In his final weeks, difficult as they were, he was so dignified, he did not complain at all and it was a real honour to be with him.
“He had 90-odd years which were wonderful. We are so proud.”