John Rutherford was my grandad, and he had a life that I think is worth remembering. So here are a few favourite pictures and accompanying notes about key moments in his story.
Grandad John was born on Mare Street, Hackney, London in 1931. His father was known as 'Jock the Jazzer' and was a jazz dancer in the 1920s. He narrowly missed out on recruitment into WW1 due to his young age.
Since employment was scarce during the Great Depression, Jock danced in East End Pubs whilst his wife, Anne, collected loose change from the punters nearby.
Anne was a fearsome woman who had a reputation for her formidable appearance, love of furs and diamonds, and was a regular fixture at venues across the East End. There are rumours she dined with the Krays. Needless to say, the locals knew that it was her, and not her husband Jock, who should be given the wages from Jock's various jobs.
The war struck when John was just 8 years old. His family made the decision to stay in London and he didn't get evacuated, so lived amongst the air raids, rubble and destruction of the Blitz.
East London and John's home on Mare Street were heavily bombed during WW2 and food was scarce. The family had to let their dog run free as there was nothing to feed him.
Life after the War was completely turned upside-down after the bombing. Tens of thousands of East Enders were displaced from their homes and became domestic refugees.
The local council looked for opportunities to house them and settled upon Wanstead Flats, a local brownfield site, as a temporary place to house people.
It built many prefabricated houses over a very short time, within 2 months of the project's start, a huge number of these houses sprang up.
Grandad and the family lived in one of these and vastly preferred them to the old tenements - easier to clean, warmer and with their own private toilet.
Since work opportunities after the war were scarce, Grandad completed his national military service as a young man in the late 1940s. He was encouraged to do the entrance exam for the Civil Service, and finished 6th in the country.
Despite this, at the interview for the job it was remarked that, even with elocution lessons it was evident that he was an East End man. This accent was considered a handicap in the social circles that led the Civil Service.
Deciding that this would hold him back, Grandad became a military policeman.
At the same time his father Jock, who had been running a local cleaning business, fell ill and had an operation to remove stomach ulcers at Whipps Cross Hospital. Unfortunately the procedure back then was quite manual and nurses failed to spot some stray stomach acid had leaked from his stomach onto his ankle.
The acid burned through to the bone, leaving Jock in need of help to support the family.
One day when Grandad was transporting an inmate in his MP role, the man broke free and punched him. He punched back and ended up in a court martial situation. Word came from his father that he needed his support and during his trial, the judge had to decide whether he should be sent to prison or released to go and help his father work.
He chose the latter.
Now having to support his mother, father and three sisters, Grandad made a go of his father's cleaning company. Entering a time when London was beginning to rebuild and offices were coming back into the national way of life, demand for business grew. He founded his company in 1948 using many workers hand picked from Wanstead Flats - they had a reputation for working hard but received attractive conditions in exchange for working for John.
Grandad met Betty Levitt, a local girl from Romford, Essex, in the early 1950s. Grandad was not an attractive suitor in the beginning as he lacked the grace to dance well, a fact often remembered by Betty throughout his life. Regardless, whether it was his prospects, charm or good looks, he succeeded to win her over.
Betty and John had three children, Liz (left), Mike (top right) and Matthew (bottom right). They grew up in a time rapidly changing for the family, with the company growing quickly and their parents enjoying the fruits of success, they were all sent to boarding school from an early age.
Meanwhile with over 1000 employees, Grandad was plenty occupied with running the business and enjoying occasional drinks down at the Woodman Pub in Chigwell, which he eventually tried to buy.
Holidays were spent driving incredibly heavy Rollers through the narrow winding mountain paths to Switzerland, or in the Welsh Valleys at their holiday home.
Eventually, some of us young whippersnappers entered the picture. With six grandkids to entertain him and taking his foot gradually off the business, Grandad was able to relax and enjoy life at a slower pace. A great companion in discussion, debate and also occasional rounds of 'Guess the Animal', his interest in many topics and natural tendency to understand how the world worked made him an incredible influence in ways we do and don't realise.