Sunday, 26 September 2021

Daniel Leer: Cheeky, handsome, unforgettable

DANIEL LEER was born on May 12, 1985.

DANIEL LEER was born on May 12, 1985.

He was an angelic baby and young boy with blond curls and blue eyes.

From early days, it was obvious he was a sports fan —tennis, football, rugby (albeit briefly) and cricket were all sports he enjoyed trying.

He was particularly passionate about football. His affair with the beautiful game started at Elm Park, where he would watch Reading FC as a small boy.

But it wasn’t long before he matured and was beguiled by the silky skills of Arsenal. The love affair with his new club hit the rocks now and then but was recently requited when he went to see the Gunners play Borussia Dortmund.

Dan grew up first in Reading and then, from the age of 10, in Shiplake, where Robin and Amanda moved to.

A bit of a townie at first, Dan was on the golf course at Peppard Common when he heard a pheasant call and commented: “I didn’t know Peppard had a train station.”

At the village school he made some strong and loyal friendships.

Here again, football played a huge part in his life when Shiplake primary reached the final of the South Oxfordshire schools cup.

Dan went on to Gillotts School in Henley where he excelled in history and maths while providing the teaching staff with a few challenges.

As he grew up and emerged into adulthood, Dan tried various career options.

His flair for cooking came into its own when he moved to Heddon-on-the-Wall, near Newcastle, to work at the Close House Hotel. Here, he developed many skills and a discerning palate.

Returning to the family home in Harpsden for his holidays, he would try to emulate a professional kitchen and thought nothing of recreating some of the Close House menu.

The £40 lasagne was his specialty where he would use a £15 bottle of Chianti and some of the best fillet steak for his ragout. This recipe proved a firm family favourite, as did his six-egg omelettes and his famous reassembled pizzas.

Eventually Dan returned home, having become disillusioned with life as a chef.

However, he could never completely ignore his calling to the kitchen and he became friends with Lorraine Hillier and a regular behind the counter at Hot Gossip.

Dan became a popular member of staff with both customers and employees.

Lorraine became a second mum to Dan and never doubted his ability, providing him with support and love throughout his life in Henley.

While at Hot Gossip, Dan began to develop his interest in horse racing. One of the highlights of his time at Hot Gossip was when Grand National jockey Sam Waley-Cohen came into the coffee shop.

Dan was the only one to recognise him and immediately ran around the counter to shake his hand and pose for a photo with him.

Daniel’s sense of style was pretty unique in Henley, where he described most of the residents as “dressing like they own a boat in the summer and a horse in the winter”.

Never seen in jeans, Dan would prefer a shirt, trousers and jacket and quite often his trilby hat. On rare dress-down days, he could choose from his extensive collection of international football shirts.

Over recent years Daniel forged another great friendship with Mike Jiggens.

Mike and Daniel shared many a pint in the Victoria and more recently the Row Barge. They shared the same love of karaoke, outlook on life and sense of humour. Both had big personalities and equally big hearts.

When Mike died tragically in May, Daniel never recovered from the loss. He had lost his best friend.

Daniel was a loving and adored brother to George, Megan and Maya. He was a much-loved and — loving — son to Amanda and Robin.

He was a very special grandson to Carol, whom he described as his favourite person in the world. He was a loyal friend to many.

Cheeky, fun-loving, complex, tender, intelligent, handsome and sensitive are just some of the words to describe him. Unforgettable is probably the most apt word. There isn’t a soul in Henley who could forget his Olympic debut!

Daniel, our lovely son, grandson, brother and friend, our loss is indescribable. We will never forget you. You will always be in our hearts. God bless you, Dan.

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