He'd received a call on January 5 to say his beloved younger brother Khalil had been snatched at gunpoint by a gang of masked gunmen in Pakistan while working with the International Red Cross.
Four long months later Ian learned that Khalil Dale's body had been found dumped with a note attached from his kidnappers claiming he had been killed because his ransom was not paid.
Initial postmortem findings showed that Khalil – who spent much of his life in Dumfries and changed his name from Kenneth when he converted to Islam – had been decapitated.
Other reports say his body was riddled with bullets. He would have turned 61 later that year. He was due to marry at the time of his death.
Every day since then, Ian Dale has relived each moment, real and imagined, of his brother's hellish ordeal.
"I get very upset when I talk about what happened to Kenneth, as I prefer to call him," says the 62 year old psychiatric nurse.
"I'm still very emotional and tearful, so normally I try to keep my feelings to myself."
His eyes fill up. "But I think about Kenneth every single day," he blurts out. "Very often I wake up at five in the morning and can't stop thinking silly things – like imagining how he died.
"People say he didn't suffer, but ... I'm tormented by the thought of what he must have gone through."
Ian and his wife, Janet, travelled from New Zealand to Scotland to attend last night's awards ceremony at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, Ayrshire, at which Khalil was posthumously named recipient of the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award 2013.
The award recognises a group or individual who has saved, improved or enriched the lives of others through personal self-sacrifice, selfless service or "hands-on" charitable work.
After he joined the Red Cross in 1981, after working as a casualty nurse at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, Khalil Dale spent much of his life in war zones and famine regions, including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan. He was awarded an MBE in 1994.
He moved back to Dumfries 11 years ago to look after his terminally ill mother Margaret, who was living alone. She was 96 when she died in 2007. "Ken was 50 when he returned to look after mum and spent five years nursing her," said Ian. "He was a very caring, loving person who always put others first, never himself. He would have been humbled by this accolade."
Asked to describe what his brother was like as a boy, he recalls his infectious giggle. "He had a unique kind of laugh and he was always saying cheeky things. For some reason his nickname for me was Dog Breath and I still have a picture he once sent me of a Jack Russell reading a newspaper with a bottle of Listerine beside him. It's on my wall and I see it every morning and think of him.
'Ken was slight, with dark curly hair. He hated any type of bullying at school, and was always protecting people. Even though he was small he'd always have to say something even if it meant putting himself at risk. Kenneth wasn't physically strong, but mentally he was.
"We were very close but he always had itchy feet. I remember when he was a teenager he took off for Morocco on a motorbike, and he ended up with dysentery." He stops to giggle at the memory, but ends up sobbing: "To me Ken is quite simply irreplaceable."
Ian and Janet are now preparing to visit Khalil's grave, which is next to their parents' grave, and will see his headstone for the first time.
"I'm not really looking forward to it. We'll place a wreath of heather and we'll toast him with glass of whisky, his favourite tipple."
The headstone is simple and touching. "It's made of sandstone and says 'Kenneth Dale MBE' and underneath that, the words 'I'm free'. I didn't want anything too elaborate, because that just wasn't Ken."
Even with the finished headstone in place, however, Ian Dale is unable to find rest. "I won't have closure until we know exactly how, and at whose hands, my brother died," he says.
He's unable to say more because both the inquest and the police investigation in Pakistan are still ongoing, and last night the Red Cross said it had no indication when they will conclude.
Does he feel angry with the British Government that his brother's ransom was not paid? He declines the opportunity to point fingers.
"It's still ongoing, it's still there and it's still very traumatic for us," he says. "Yes, I'm angry, but not with anybody in particular. What upsets me most is the way Kenneth's life ended. He was such a kind person and I can't get my head round the thought that he died in such a way.
"I know there are a lot of bad people in the world, but even so you never expect something like that."
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