TO pretend to understand what Julie and Paul Thomas are going through at the moment would be to insult both.

Between them they have lost a husband, a father, a son, a brother. Nobody other than those who have suffered similar tragedies can conceive of what that is like.

When they return, they will at least have the comfort of knowing they have the sympathy of countless people.

The opening of books of condolence in memory of David and Stephen at Gateway Church in Stonehill Green and Sainsbury’s in Paddington Drive is an excellent and touching thing.

It is an opportunity for us all to send our condolences, reminding this grieving mother and son and other loved ones of David and Stephen that fellow human beings, even those they have never met, send their thoughts.

Another comfort must surely be the knowledge that although Stephen’s life was cut short so horrifically early, he has left an indelible legacy to the world in the form of his photography.

Before the tragedy some of his finest images were being gathered for inclusion in calendars. They were meant to be a showcase for his undeniable talent and they still shall be, but they shall also be a worthy tribute to the young man behind the lens.

When people buy those calendars they will be giving money to the Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group, whose work helped him and was dear to his heart.

Stephen was once interviewed about his photography and said he would like to do it professionally.

In a way he has achieved his dream.