It is impossible to do justice to the life and legacy of David Trimble in a few hundred words.
How do you encapsulate the vision and courage of a man who helped broker peace, whose actions saved lives and who gave Northern Ireland a future beyond the near-constant cycle of violence?
However, I will try to relay my own feelings about what he achieved and what his legacy has been for the people of Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the wider United Kingdom.
David Trimble was elected as the Ulster Unionist Party MP for Upper Bann in a by-election in 1990 following the death of Harold McCusker. Within five years he would be the party leader.
Prior to that he was a law lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast, but mere dates and facts do not convey the impact David Trimble had on Northern Ireland and its people.
He will forever be associated with the negotiations that led to the 1998 Belfast Agreement and ultimately became first minister in July of that year.
The Belfast Agreement negotiations took place following a 30-year campaign of IRA terror aimed at destroying the Union.
It took a great deal of personal and political courage to take the leap of faith that was required to put Sinn Fein and the IRA to the test and establish just how genuine Sinn Fein’s commitment to a purely political path was, and whether or not the IRA was serious about decommissioning its weapons and accepting that its violent campaign to break the Union had ended in failure.
But, ironically, David Trimble’s main opposition came from within unionism itself — and much of that from within his own party.
Those who were there in that period recall regular meetings of the Ulster Unionist Council at various large venues in Belfast where David Trimble sought to persuade his party to back him whilst he faced down opposition both within the room and outside in the streets.
The pressure he was under was extraordinary, as he faced constant physical and verbal abuse, yet time and again he succeeded, often by narrow margins, to make the case for the Agreement.
His motivation was his belief that what he was doing was right and he was determined to pursue a course that he believed in.
He knew his path offered Northern Ireland and its people the prospect of a better future than the nightmare of violence they had just endured.
One thing that has struck me is the loyalty David Trimble inspired in those around him.
Those who worked closely with him have all expressed how proud they were to serve him, and the degree of personal loyalty they felt — and still feel — is testament to David Trimble himself.
I have the greatest admiration for David Trimble as a man who sought to lead unionism out of the trenches of the Troubles and into the debating chambers and TV studios as he sought to articulate the case for Northern Ireland’s right to exist.
He showed that unionism could be open, inclusive and welcoming, with an argument that was long overdue and which needed and deserved to be heard.
David Trimble and the Ulster Unionist Party paid a high political price for 1998.
However, he was ultimately vindicated, as those who once shouted the loudest ended up taking up high office and working the institutions of the Belfast Agreement.
Indeed, many former political foes now seek to use the Belfast Agreement as the guarantor of the Union and invoke it to make their case when they feel they need it. In doing so, they stand on the shoulders of a giant, without the grace to admit David was right.
David Trimble will be remembered as a first minister, as a peer of the realm and as a Nobel Peace Prize winner. He will also be remembered as the man who had the courage to stand up and stand tall when he was most needed.
His legacy is easy to quantify, as he gave us the relative peace we have today.
We all owe David Trimble a great deal — and not just in the fleeting moments as we write about his life in death.
This place is all the better for David’s presence and will be all the poorer for his absence.
His contribution to Northern Ireland, to peace and to reconciliation, is a model that many should look to emulate in the years to come.