If you could use only one word to describe Dick Hardy, that word would be ‘respected’. If you could use two, you would add the word ‘hugely’. In 40 years as a railway journalist, I have never met a man who was as universally admired, and yes, adored, by his contemporaries, as was R.H.N. Hardy. In his lifetime career on the railway, he worked with some rare characters, from pithy, wide-boy engine cleaners who knew every dodge (and every swear word) in the book, to the articulate and erudite senior engineers and board members who controlled the railway’s destiny – but regardless of whether he was carpeting someone in blue serge for acting outside the rule book, or talking highlevel matters of operating policy with other senior managers, he left everyone with a sense of his profound fairness, warmth, and humility. Decades after he retired from railway service, he still received letters and Christmas cards from the scores of men he had worked with on the footplate, typically addressing him as ‘Sir’, or ‘Mr Hardy’ – a measure of the exalted regard in which he was held. When Dick took over the reins as chairman of SLOA, the world changed. Until that point, main line locomotive owners, though organised together under the SLOA banner, didn’t always enjoy universal acceptance by the BR hierarchy, never quite being able to escape the perception that they were merely a band of amateur railwaymen who just wanted to ‘play trains’ on the network. By his impeccable professional pedigree and calming influence, he raised SLOA’s profile and credibility almost overnight. His death really does feel like the end of an era. I will miss his characteristic baritone voice on the end of the telephone, his warmth and his friendship. As others have said, it was a privilege to have known him.