IT might sound a bit needy, but I’ve always wanted to be a hero to my children.

Sadly, it’s my wife who’s their real hero. She’s the practical parent, the fixer, the one they turn to whenever they need help. Superwoman.

Let me put it in context. As teenagers, my daughter, Hannah, and her friends were discussing the film Taken, in which Liam Neeson heroically rescues his daughter after telling her kidnappers: “I will find you – and I will kill you.”

In the light of this, Hannah and her friends were debating which of their dads would cope best in such a crisis.

“What about your dad?” one of them asked Hannah.

“No, he’d just ask my mum what to do,” she sighed.

She’s probably right but my one saving grace is that I’ve built a strong reputation for finding inanimate objects that have gone missing. It’s an ability I first discovered as a kid when we lost our tennis ball.  I don’t profess to be especially religious these days, but growing up as a Catholic boy, I vividly remember praying to St Anthony, the patron saint of lost things, and the ball magically re-appeared in a rhubarb patch.

My knack of finding missing things has developed ever since, with the highlight coming when my wife announced one winter’s evening that she’d lost her wedding ring. We searched everywhere, and had just about given up, when I suddenly remembered that I’d sent her out in the snow earlier to fetch some coal for the fire (on the grounds that she wears slippers, and I don’t).

Sensing that a large supply of brownie-points were up for grabs, I dashed into the back-garden with my torch, leaned head-first into the coalbunker, and there was the ring, glinting magically in the darkness.

Then there was the time, during a family holiday at Centre Parcs when my first-born, Christopher, couldn’t find his bike.

“Where did you leave it?” I asked.

“Locked to a tree,” he replied.

Given that we were in the middle of Sherwood Forest, this wasn’t an awful lot of help, but I still managed to track it down after trying the key in more locks than Halford’s sell in a good year.

That all happened 20 years ago, and I think I may have just had my finest moment yet. This time, we were holidaying in Center Parcs, in Holland, with our now grown-up children and our little granddaughter.

We hadn’t even got through the first day when my second son, Jack, dropped one of his expensive earphones somewhere in the forest. No more than a centimetre in diameter and coloured black, it was like finding a needle in a haystack, but I was determined to enhance my reputation as “good finder”.

For four days, I kept my eyes on the ground, kicking away leaves and branches as I walked.

“You’ll never find it, Dad,” they all said, but I refused to give up.

Then, on the last day, I gave it one last go, and even said a little prayer to St Anthony. Something made me take a turn off the main path and, there, poking up through the pine-needles, was a tiny black earphone.

I don’t care what anyone says. I’m a super-earo.