CAN you do my funeral?" asked Nic with a wry smile, "it'll be soon." That was 14 inspiring weeks ago.

On Tuesday I will do it - a celebration of a celebrated naval artist and of an amazing man who packed two lives into his allotted 56 years - "I'm really 112 years old," he'd smile.

What amazes most about this "lovely big man" is his last heroic voyage.

No fear. No giving in; fighting a rearguard action as if one of his beloved battleships.

When cancer claimed his voice, he battled on roaring with laughter when visitors couldn't quite understand his gestures.

Tears welled also yet often above a smile, a moving combination.

At root was his belief that death was a new beginning with a new body and a new set of challenges.

About this time of the year, he believed he'd spring back to life because "I've always believed in Jesus and God, and they've brought resurrection."

After inviting me to do his funeral, he spent an hour telling me of HMS Warspite, a super dreadnaught that survived Jutland, claiming many enemy ships.

Often hit, it limped back to port, through ramming u-boats.

The ship that wouldn't die survived another world war and en route to the scrapyard, Warspite escaped by ramming itself into the Cornish coast.

As Nic's tale unfolded it dawned that he was talking about himself.

I think he only went this week knowing there was a recommissioning on the other side, and another voyage.