We could all do with a knight in shining armour: that person who, when times get tough, stands shoulder to shoulder with you, who has your back, who listens intently and offers solutions to your woes: the one for whom the saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ was made.

Despite advocating such chivalry, do as I say, not as I do. I try to be a good friend to the emotionally needy, yet I have the attention span of a goldfish. When others are discussing their problems, I display the same interest levels as when Primark clothes shopping with the wife. That said, and I guess this is where we are all self-serving, I am happy to share my problems, often very minor, openly with others. The listeners generally fail to follow the conversation up at a later date as blokes don’t do that type of thing. It’s good to offload, yet tiresome to dose up on others' issues.

In days gone by, when there was a problem and no one else could help, maybe you could call the A Team. Quite how they existed as soldiers of fortune I am unsure: they never charged individuals who were getting screwed over by the ‘man’. They spent tens of thousands on flights; weaponry that never killed or maimed, and loaded up on armour-plated heat shields. And how on earth did BA never get picked up on ANPR when cruising around in the most stand out work van of all time?

Along with the stateside A Team, every smaller UK community needs a knight in shining armour and one such place is Godolphin Cross, in Cornwall. Best described as a ‘backwater’, it has an official population of 'a handful’, with little occurring. There used to be a shop and a pub, but no longer. All there is of note is a primary school to serve its 700 strong population. The Neighbourhood Watch is in permanent vigilance mode, yet there is little crime beyond Ms Miggins being short-changed in the honesty box for some of her splendid lemon drizzle cake, and the neighbours all belong to a parish committee or five.

But then, three years ago, catastrophe! The local Methodist church was put up for sale. It was due to be developed into flats but the villagers decided to try to raise the money themselves. A valiant attempt ensued, but it was seemingly a bridge too far with only £25,000 of the £95,000 raised. A local then uncovered a (tenuous) link with Sheikh Mohammed (worth $4.5billion) through the sheik family-owned Godolphin horse racing stable.

The media found the tenuous link appealing and it went viral, eventually coming to the Sheikh's attention. To cut to the quick, the church was saved! The Sheikh agreed to make up the shortfall, and then some, to ensure that Godolphin now has a ‘community hub’ to enjoy after raising over half a million for a refit. The Sheikh has so far declined to visit the village despite them wanting to thank him personally; no doubt aware he would be tapped up for more of his hard-earned should he set foot in Kernow.

But yes, we, and villages, need modern-day knights in shining armour such as Sheikh Mohammed. It of course does not have to be financial. A friend of mine in the village I live in spends his retirement haranguing lazy councillors as he acts on all of our behalf as our protector. I have another friend who is available "any time night or day, if you should wish to talk". I must confess I once put this offer to the test and was asked what the bloody hell I was doing phoning up at 4am on a Sunday morning?

There are good guys out there, those who put others first, including the Sheikh. I am aware he has cash and his contribution is but a relative drop in the ocean, but small gestures such as his can have a dramatic effect on people and communities across the country. As for me, I plan to drop into the Godolphin community hub the next time I wing my way through the back end of Cornwall and admire the generosity bestowed on a hamlet that has now secured its long-term future morning, noon and knight.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher who lives in London Colney