At the end of February this year I received one of the saddest emails of my life. The subject was simply "ceasing writing" and the sender was none other than Ferdia O'Dowd. Into his seventies Ferdia was an active and fit man and his love for cars and the car industry was undimmed. He wrote for the Sunday Business Post on the subject for well over twenty years and it must have pained him to have to pass that baton to me.
In comparison to his close friends and family I only knew Ferdia a short time, but was lucky enough to share a car with him on a number of occasions. He loved driving. One launch sticks out in my mind as defining the man. We were in Portugal to drive the Nissan Leaf at the end of 2010. Ferdia was soaking up the sunshine and even went for a jog in the morning before we took the new car out. He proceeded to delight in the instant acceleration of the Leaf and spent the next hour or so picking races with the hapless locals. On that day I saw his inner boy - and it's something he never lost.
Ferdia was taken from the world by Motor Neurone Disease, a cruel fate, but thankfully a relatively swift one in his case. He died on April 19 this year.
Our condolences to his friends and loving family. May he rest in peace. We won't forget him.