FOR pensioner Pete Walden, the old adage that dogs are a man’s best friend couldn’t have been more true.
So he was utterly devastated when his German shepherd Brockie died two weeks ago after suffering from cancer.
But a surprise gift brought a smile to his face – as well as a few tears.
Colleagues at Havant Over-50’s Forum, where 82-year-old Pete is chairman, asked Havant artist Darryl Doughty to paint a picture of Mr Walden and Brockie from a photograph.
They presented the painting as a surprise as dozens of people gathered to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the forum, which fights for the interests of older people in the Havant area.
Pete, of Trosnant Road, Bedhampton, said: ‘It was great – it brought tears to my eyes.
‘It was lovely. I’m very grateful to them.
‘I’m going to send them a card to say thank you.
‘Brockie meant everything to me.
‘I had her for almost 12 years and she was my best friend.’
Over the past 10 years Mr Walden has been at the forefront of the group, fighting to keep the Post Office and the Age Concern Information and Resource Centre in Havant town centre.
Manager of the Age Concern centre in Havant Jan Gough said: ‘Brockie died a couple of weeks ago and was his companion and loving friend for 12 years. We all felt awful about it.
‘Then somebody said they had a photograph and said why don’t we get a painting done.
‘It’s a mark of the huge esteem that we hold Pete in.
‘He’s tireless and fearless as well.
‘He’s the best chairman any group could want to be honest.’
She added: ‘He’s not an official or a councillor. He’s one of us.
‘People know they can take their problems to him and he knows the people who can tackle it.’
Pete, who was a highways foreman and worked for Havant council for 40 years, was reinstated as chairman for another two years.
He said: ‘Well done to everyone, it means we are doing something right.
‘I am very grateful to everyone for the help they have given us.
‘Without their help, we couldn’t have done it. It’s not all me.
‘Let’s hope we can keep going for many more years.’