As a young boy Nicholas Trimble saw first-hand how brutal the political scene in Northern Ireland could be - and made a promise to himself never to have anything to do with it.
Yet today the 34-year-old son of former First Minister David Trimble is mayor of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council and finding the role far more fulfilling than he ever imagined.
Despite his best intentions to forge a very different career from his father, six years ago a good turn delivering election leaflets for a friend prompted a swift series of events that now sees him, as he comically describes it, "put on my suit and my mayoral chain of office and sit in my own kitchen waving at people on Zoom".
Confronted with the irony of how his life has turned out, the personable UUP's man's wry sense of humour continues. "Um, well... er... look... ," he laughs. "Nobody really believes me when I say this, but growing up in the household that we did, turned me and my siblings completely off politics here. We saw it at its ugliest."
The conversation quickly turns more serious as he admits there were childhood moments of real fear and trauma for him, older brother and sister, Richard and Victoria, and younger sister Sarah. "Horrific," is the word he falls back on repeatedly to describe that torrid period when his father was UUP leader in the run-up to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, years that saw bitter in-fighting in unionism.
"As children we had a front row seat. We had protesters standing outside our house chanting 'Trimble the traitor'. I remember mum coming home and telling us about the letter bomb that had been sent to dad's constituency office."
As David and wife Daphne left the election count in his Upper Bann constituency in 2001, the couple were attacked by an angry crowd. "There was 'argy bargy' - that was the term used on a few occasions," recalls Nicholas. "Mum had bruises on her shins where she had been kicked."
He does concede, however, that being the young son of a politician at the centre of historic developments also delivered its fair share of moments to impress school friends with. As negotiations intensified in the bid to broker the peace deal, Nicholas found the family home, near Lisburn, the focus of world attention.
"There'd be so many political meetings in our house, it's amazing what you can normalise as a child. The phone was always ringing off the hook, and that was one thing my dad tried to avoid - answering the phone. My siblings and I were the phone answering service and we loved it. You'd be taking phone calls from 10 Downing Street or the White House. It was always the switchboard, but to a little 10 or 11-year-old, well, you can just imagine."
More tricky were those occasions when their weary father cautioned them: "If anyone calls, I'm not in." Nicholas continues: "Normally you can parrot that off but when it is Number 10 and a voice says 'Is the First Minister there?... ' I'd to say 'Could you hold on a minute please?' and then go and check with dad."
In Washington he'd a memorable encounter with Gerry Adams when the former Sinn Fein president asked to share some of his sweets. Nicholas and his siblings had accompanied their parents to an event at the US National Press Club in 1998, shortly before their father received his Nobel Peace Prize along with the late SDLP leader John Hume.
"Mum was holding on tightly to my younger sister Sarah, but I was a free agent and wandering around the room," he recalls. "There was a tray of sweeties and I picked up a bag of M&Ms. Then, this man approaches me and it was Gerry Adams. I knew who it was though the full context was lost on me."
Showing off a talent for mimicry, Nicholas adopts the deadpan delivery of Mr Adams: "So, he looks over at me and says 'here, can I have a wee sweetie?' I'm holding tight onto the packet and, a bit like having stage-fright, going, 'Er... no... I can't get the box open'. And then I ran away, taking the sweets with me. I think he wanted to be friendly - I'm sure he knew I was David's son - but he didn't get my M&Ms.
"When I did finally get the box open, I discovered they were peanut M&Ms, which I didn't like, so he could have had them."
For the past seven years Nicholas has been married to Sarah, who previously worked in retail and is a qualified nail technician. They met through their church, Harmony Hill Presbyterian. "We lived miles away from each other," he jokes. "I was Lambeg and she was Hilden - literally a stone's throw apart." The couple share their home with a Jack Russell and a Dachshund, Max and Ellie.
He's conscious that when they wed "Sarah married someone who was not a member of a political party, who wasn't elected, and now we are completely involved in politics and that's not quite what she signed up for. She doesn't have a political bone in her body. She has been very good (about it), but it hasn't been what we planned in our 'where are we going in life?' talks."
But, then, while still a teenager Nicholas had to confront and come to terms with having his assumed career trajectory interrupted by a serious mental health issue.
Talking frankly about the events that engulfed his life shortly after he started a Maths degree at Cambridge University, he reveals: "I hit a wee bit of a psychological mishap and sort of went to pieces. Basically, I said 'I need to come home.' I had got through the first two terms - they have a three-term system - and they said 'we'll put you down for coming back next year in September'.
"But when I came home I knew I was not in a very good place psychologically and I couldn't bring myself to consider going away again. After getting over that - and that took a good while, I was medicated - I thought I don't think I could face going back there now. I just wanted to go into the workforce."
In 2007, he started a job at Belfast City Hospital, in the medical records department. "It was entry level admin stuff but I enjoyed it. Then the credit crunch hit and I signed to different agencies and worked in quite a few places."
A few years later his then minister at church suggested he study theology at Union Theological College in Belfast but he eventually gave up those studies which "I was doing just out a personal interest". He'd never any intention of joining the clergy and after meeting Sarah he wanted a paid job again so they could start planning their future. Next came a series of posts in the financial sector.
Reflecting on his academic journey now, he says: "There's very much a view if you come through the grammar schools, then you are going on to university. Many people aren't properly prepared mentally as to what that kind of life is actually like. There should be more encouragement for people to stop and ask themselves if this is what they want to do because it's not the only option."
His openness about his own mental health struggle is admirable and as a politician it's an area that he wants to support. Working for Grant Thornton's insolvency team brought home how quickly people's financial circumstances can change. "When lockdown finally ends many will realise they are carrying their financial insecurity with them in their head 24-hours a day and that's when we'll need a serious mental health intervention."
Nicholas Trimble is affable, bright and confident, and evidently the UUP quickly spotted his potential. After helping his friend win a seat on the council, he was quickly inveigled into becoming treasurer of their local association and then, in 2016, MLA Robbie Butler asked him to take on a full-time job in his office, though he's gone down to one-day-a-week while mayor. Constituency casework brings its moments - "like someone complaining about a neighbour's dog and it turns out the neighbour is a close relative!" - but he clearly derives satisfaction from helping people. "One person told us that we had saved their life. That resonated with me so much. I'd done something good for someone else."
Obviously the pandemic has impacted his year as mayor. There was no installation dinner and a farewell dinner in May now doesn't look likely. He's improvised, conducting engagements online. During the summer he managed to host volunteers who'd distributed parcels to the vulnerable in several socially-distanced gatherings. "Normally, there'd be a finger buffet and a trip to the mayor's parlour but... we have to make the best of it. I'm unlikely to ever get the role again."
Despite renewed talk of a border boll, he doesn't believe unionism is demoralised. "Maybe I'm too short in the tooth, but I'm optimistic about a lot of things. There is a vibrancy in unionism. Politics is about creating the future, but that conversation doesn't happen enough here. Political discourse becomes destructive, it spirals downwards."
His father, now 76 and a Conservative peer in the House of Lords, chose to stay in London during the pandemic. His mother has joined him there and they've spent a lot of time with his sister Vicky who made headlines after coming out to her parents.
Nicholas is reluctant to be drawn on the subject out of respect for his sister. "I'm not actually sure how that conversation went between my parents and Vicky, that's a conversation she had with then directly. It's something dad never had to face before - he was born in 1944 and was of a generation when for his formative years homosexuality was criminalised. But he accepted it. It probably wasn't easy for him but in the end it didn't register too much because at heart he loves his family, he loves his children. That's the main thing there."
He laughs off suggestions that he'd like to inherit his dad's famous collection of Elvis LPs. "I'd have nothing to play them on," he protests, before letting slip: "Dad also likes some American country, like Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks. Other than that it's Richard Wagner." Nicholas, who is church organist, prefers Queen - "a band that's stood the test of time".
As a child, his father seemed "a wee bit distant but I never thought that he wasn't there. I could always talk to him but he was a busy man with a busy job that took him away".
He is hugely proud of his achievements. "I genuinely think if he had not held firm and stepped up when he did and brought the people with him then this country wouldn't be in the place it is. Would we eventually have got there? Possibly, but it might have taken another couple of decades.
"Probably the hardest thing was that it turned out to be political suicide... slowly. But it was the right thing to do and I think he knew it was the right thing to do and by hell or high water he did it. To say I'm proud is an understatement. I think he changed this country for the better."
His father "enjoys being a spectator now of Northern Ireland politics now" but did he have any words of advice for his son when he joined the council?
"He didn't, and that was deliberate on his part. He said that I was big enough and ugly enough to make my own decisions.
"If I asked for his advice, he'd certainly give it to me, but he takes the view that this is my story to tell."