When asked where I get my ideas from for this column, I say it is from people like the person addressing me, people who ask questions. 

Questions such as “Why did they do that?”, “When will they do that?” and “Why hasn’t somebody done that?” 

The answer to that last one should be “Why haven’t you done something about it?” for often the query is about something which anybody could do. Don’t wait for somebody to do it – you are a somebody.

I was pleased to see, in several roads around the borough, that householders were out with brooms sweeping leaves from gutters and pavements ahead of the forecast strong winds and rain. 

They reasoned there was not much sense in hoping that the cash-strapped council would do it, and if not them, who? 

And it had to be done or the drains would be blocked with leaves, the area flooded, and all because somebody was waiting for somebody else to do a simple job. We need more somebodies. 

The other day somebody suggested that I had words with somebody. So I did.

Richard Ewins is most definitely a somebody. He eyed up the Horsell War Memorial and the adjacent planters. 

He noted the nearby stone tablet on which is inscribed “Pass not this stone in sorrow but in pride and strive to live as nobly as they died”. 

He felt the condition of the memorial was not the way to honour those who had fought for us and died. The memorial was grubby and the planters empty apart from weeds. 

Having retired from being a firefighter in London for some 30 years, and at Windsor Castle for six, he has taken to his “second trade”: gardening.  He has worked at Woking Golf Club and for private houses and enjoys gardening. 

When I met him he grumbled, as do most of us, about the state of the council  and   how damaging neglect can be: empty planters become the depository for rubbish and one crisp packet seems to breed other bits of litter. 

“Maybe it’s time take back the village we love,” he said.

Back in August he wrote to Andy Calfe, neighbourhood manager, at Woking Borough Council: “Following our conversation by telephone.

“As I said I would like to volunteer to upkeep the memorial area in Horsell High Street. 

“This would include cleaning the monument with a suitable cleaner, jet washing the slabbed paved area taking care as not to disturb the mortar, pruning of the hedge and weeding and replenishing the plants in the planters. I have all the tools required for the upkeep.

“I am now a retired firefighter who cares considerably for this area as these heroes gave their lives for us and deserve an impeccably kept memorial. I am also looking for a sponsor to provide the plants required.”

The same day Mr Calfe replied: “Your kind offer sparked a few questions about the ownership of the actual site, even though we have generally looked after it.

“We would rather not have anyone touching the monument itself before those checks are made. In the past  any work done to any memorial has been conducted by a specialist contractor and this would include the surrounding paving. 

“The planters, however, is something we have been unable to plant up this year due to our financial situation and we would welcome to hear any plans or support you may have regarding those. 

“As regards to the hedge, this is something Serco, our ground maintenance contractor, has done in the past and they have been waiting for the end of the birds’ nesting season before giving it a cut.

“Like you we also think it’s important to keep these sites looking in good condition. 

“However, we do have to be mindful of anyone working around and close to the highway to have appropriate insurances etc. This is something Surrey County Council would insist on.”

I have been told of a petition asking if the public knows of any local groups happy to clean local loos: this is evidently acceptable, but cleaning a war memorial is not. 

Perhaps the council thought Richard might settle for finding a sponsor for plants. Richard had other ideas. 

Perhaps the council worried that Richard would scrub the memorial with a Brillo pad dipped in bleach and power-wash the paving so vigorously as to loosen the slabs. 

But Richard did some careful research. He spoke to funeral directors. He contacted a  stonemason friend for guidance as to the best way to clean stone without harming the surface – a special solution and a brush. He showed  me where, on the memorial, it would seem that some rough cleaning had been done previously. 

Neither SCC nor WBC seem to worry about the regular litter picks in the village when much of that takes place on roadsides. By the way, Serco have recently trimmed that hedge.

As I said, Richard is a somebody. The memorial is now clean. The paving weeded. The planters planted. All at his own expense. 

Today (Sunday, November 12) at the 10.50am service at the war memorial, many residents will have the opportunity to give thanks to Richard, somebody who took to heart those last lines on the memorial: “The names of those who returned not again are here inscribed to be honoured ever more.”