BILLY Smith was born on September 28, 1938, in Elphinstone.

His mum Liz Smith worked on the farms and his dad Alex Smith was a miner.

Billy was one of seven and the second youngest in his childhood home, with four brothers and two sisters. He attended Elphinstone Primary School and Preston Lodge, starting his apprenticeship in joinery once he left school.

He completed his apprenticeship in Andersons in Ormiston, leaving the company briefly to join Crudens but deciding to come back.

It was during his time at Andersons that he met his first wife, who happened to be the daughter of the company owner.

They married on September 2, 1961, in Ormiston and had two children, Gordon and Alan.

Billy divorced from his first wife when Gordon was 13 years old.

Billy married his second wife Helen, from Tranent, in 1976 and became stepdad to her two kids, Robert and Anne.

Helen was a keen baker and painter; she worked at Carlsberg, running the canteen.

Billy kept working until his retirement at 65.

Despite being retired, the working life never left him. Billy kept himself occupied and would do small jobs here and there for people.

Gordon said: “He was a top joiner. Lots of people said he was a top joiner.”

Billy was a busy man and a huge fan of golf but, according to Gordon, “he played golf badly but he was keen”.

He would support his son, who spent a couple of years as one of the captains at Craigielaw. Billy would cheer the players on and give out juice and snacks.

Helen sadly passed away 10 years ago and Billy organised an annual charity golf day in her memory, raising money for Leuchie House.

Billy was a frequent visitor to the Tower Inn in Tranent – it was only 100 yards from his house.

“He was king when he went in there,” said Gordon. “Everybody ran after him.”

Despite enjoying his trips to the pub and chatting to everyone who was in there, Billy wanted something else to occupy his time. His doctor recommended he join the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), which he did about two years ago.

RVS was another charity his golf days would raise money for.

Members offer personal and practical support to allow older people to stay independent and active in their communities. The charity offers a library link service, with Books on Wheels available for those who are unable to pop to their library.

Its community transport scheme helps people attend various appointments, while GP transport helps people attend doctor and nurse appointments, and its good neighbours scheme allows volunteers to help their neighbours do small things around their home and keep them company.

Gordon said: “It gave him a new lease of life. Since he started, he couldn’t stop. He would meet people the same age as him or younger who weren’t in the same health, which made him really appreciate his own.”

Through his involvement in RVS, Billy attended this year’s royal garden party at Holyrood.

Billy died suddenly on Saturday, July 20, aged 80.

He was working as normal the day before and was said to be full of health. He quickly took ill later on and was taken to hospital.

Billy was rushed into theatre, where he sadly passed away on the operating table after suffering an aortic aneurysm.

“There was no warning,” said Gordon.

“He was a part of us. We were a wee bit distant for about 10 years or so but I got to know him again.

“If he survived the operation he would have been in recovery and dad would have hated that.

“He might have died after 80 years of life, but he lived 120.”

Billy’s funeral took place at Mortonhall Cremation on August 2.

People came from all over to attend his funeral, from as far away as Ayrshire and Portrush.

The Tower Inn opened later that day as a mark of respect to the family and the staff attendance at the funeral.

Since Billy’s passing, tributes have been pouring in for a popular local man who lived life to the fullest.

Gordon said: “You don’t realise how popular he was till after he died. The amount of people I’ve spoken to and people who have said things on Facebook, it’s a lot of people, he was a popular fella.

“He could take to anybody and got in with them and that would be him. He was a real cheerful cheeky chappy.”

John from the Tower Inn paid tribute to Billy, saying: “He was a real good character and quite a fond guy.

“He did a lot of work for charity and the RVS, voluntary driving and taking people to and from hospital.

“He was really talkative and would speak to strangers all the time. He went out of his way to make everyone feel welcome.

“I still expect him to walk into the pub, he was in every day. Myself and all the bar staff are really going to miss him.”

Victor Nelson was a close friend of Billy’s whom he met at the pub and would often sit with him.

When talking about Billy, he said: “He was very generous with his time. He was a kind person, generous, the hub of the community and a genuinely good man.

“He was someone everyone knew and knew who he was, he was very friendly with everyone and they were friendly with him. In the Tower Inn he was friendly with everyone, he met many friends through there. He took an interest in everybody.

“He introduced himself to me and my wife when we first moved about 15 or so years ago and we grew a friendship with him.

“I was also involved in the golf with him as well, his charity golf days and trips to Portrush.

“He was very good at delegating tasks when it came to organising his golf days.

“Yeah, I’m really going to miss him.”

As Billy used to say to everyone when he left the pub: “I’ll see yi in Paris.”