One of my mother’s favourite sayings is: ‘Charity begins at home.’

I’ve often thought about this little saying, and it is something that I have reflected on during all the commemorations for the 80th anniversary of the D-Day Landings.

When I was younger, I used to think it was a bit selfish; are we being told to look after our family and let everyone else come in second? But, as I have grown up, I’ve realised that it points to noble and honest living. I can substitute ‘home’ for ‘me’; before I tell others to be charitable, I should practise it myself.

It also resonates with me now as a parent. Good character and behaviour is learned at home and therefore I should set the right example to my daughters of how to live. It also means to be charitable first to those we encounter daily, not those big causes in far-off lands but the small, everyday acts of kindness to one another.

For Christians, charity is the highest form of love, signifying the reciprocal love between God and humanity.

When I have been on a pastoral visit to a family going through a bereavement, Paul, my co-pilot, will ask me how I got on with the family. And I am almost always able to tell him what a fantastic meeting I have had. The remarkable life stories that I have heard give me food for thought long after the funeral.

I met an Exmouth family last week to hear about Joan, a remarkable woman who would have turned 99 this month. She was a young woman when the Second World War ended! And Joan was one of those people who worked under the radar to make little positive differences to people’s lives. She would buy dolls from charity shops, make clothes for them and then return them to the shops to be sold again. She would also knit clothes for babies on the neo-natal ward.

Strangely enough, three of our clients regularly make blankets for the babies lost in early pregnancy as they are aware of our partnership with the RD&E.

Last week, hundreds of people packed into the chapel at East Devon Crematorium as we said an emotional goodbye to an adored Honiton lady, Di Wall. She was a well-loved member of Honiton Golf Club, she had been an assistant Beaver leader, cub scout leader and assistant District Commissioner for the cubs. She was also part of the Honiton Pantomime Society for 25 years; she loved things at the heart of community. And, appropriately, her devoted husband, Phil, chose a really local charity for donations in her memory, a charity that had been so wonderful for Di: Honiton’s Dementia Friendly Café. How’s that for charity beginning at home?

And on that subject, so far this year, local families who have been cared for by Shoobridge Funeral Services have raised more than £18,322.53 for charities in memory of their loved ones. That’s in five months! How amazing is that for charity beginning at home?

The stories we have heard of the charity shown from soldier to soldier during that frightening and complex day on the beaches of Normandy in 1944 have moved so many of us to tears this past week. When my daughter, aged 10, turned to me and asked: “What would our lives be like if we had lost the war?” I saw the same reflection behind the eyes of the latest generation. The charity – love – shown by those human beings all those years ago enable us to love our precious family and friends freely and happily today.

Charity begins at home … and that charity spreads to the shops where a child will buy a doll which has been lovingly re-clothed, it spreads to people packing into chapels to show their love for a local stalwart, and it spreads to dangerous waters in a dangerous liberation operation in the 1940s.

Let’s practise charity at home … and then let’s spread it to every corner of the world.