Hayden on his third birthday with his grandad, John “Jack” Henderson

Over the past couple of years I’ve written about many inspirational people from history and famous individuals who are still alive, but I’m unlikely to ever meet.

But today, I want to focus on someone I’ve been very close to who has been an inspiration to me personally.

John “Jack” Henderson was born in Glasgow, Scotland during the second World War.  The youngest of 10 children, his father passed away when he was just 3 weeks old.  As a result, his mother was forced to work to provide for the family, leaving his older sisters to raise him from a very young age.

After leaving school in his early teens, he worked as a television repairman.  It was a strange role for Jack as he was probably the least handy man I’ve ever met, although it did start a lifetime love of television.

At the age of 17, Jack left Scotland for London to enrol in the Salvation Army Training College for Officers.  He struggled to read or write, making college a challenge.  Out of hundreds of cadets, Jack was one of three in the literacy remedial class.  However, he didn’t let it stop him from completing his training and starting his career with the Salvation Army in their Social Work area.  Remarkably, Jack went on to complete his Masters Degree in Social Work and later became a university lecturer back in Scotland. Not bad for an illiterate TV repairman.

His first appointment as an officer was at a men’s hostel in Coventry where he worked for his future in-laws and the young motorcycle riding lieutenant swept their daughter Lillian off her feet.

Over the course of many years of service, Jack and Lillian ran numerous children’s homes, homeless shelters and alcohol rehab units in three countries (Great Britain, USA and Australia).  During decades of social work, Jack positively influenced and transformed hundreds of lives, all while raising a young family of three, Heather, Karen and Mark.

Jack went on to become the Director of the Salvation Army’s Family Stores across five Australian states, raising millions of dollars for those in need.

Sadly, Jack passed away last week after bravely battling illness for many years.

He was my wife Karen’s dad, and the proud grandfather of my children, Hayden, Madison and Logan.

I couldn’t have asked for a better father-in-law, a man who not only accepted and loved me as a part of the family, but always took an interest in my various activities.

He showed me that no matter how humble your beginnings, you can still reach your potential through education and hard work.

He showed me that one person can make a difference in the world, changing the lives of hundreds of less fortunate individuals.

Jack, you were an inspiration and the legacy that you’ve left is both admirable and remarkable.

You’re free from pain now and with God, whom you served so faithfully for your entire life.

I pray that I can make a similar impact and teach my kids the wonderful aspects of their beloved grandad.

Thanks Jack!

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