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News > Archive News > Obituaries > David Leathers (St 56-60)

David Leathers (St 56-60)

17 Jan 2022
Written by Tracey Ahmet

David was born in England in 1942. He went with his parents out to South Africa when still young where he initially attended prep school, but when the family came back he was sent for a year to St Michael’s, Tawstock to prepare him for Rugby entrance.

Right from Rugby days in Stanley we hit it off together. And that happy team of David (St 56-60), Alan Johnson-Hill (St 56-60), Hugh Davies (St 55-60), Ant Helme (St 56-60), Donald Latimer (St 56-60), Mike Houdret (St 55-60), Henry Reid (St 56-60) and me, who rolled up their trousers at a Holmead Road BBQ to re-enact the Cock House photo, have held their friendship over the years.

Instead of university, David went straight on to do accountancy at Binder Hamlyn as an apprentice. He was then asked to stay on for a few more years as part of what was called the ‘Empire Room’, where Sir Anthony Birney had a group of about 10 recently qualified young men focusing on interesting financial investigations. In 1972 he went on to join NM Rothschild where he increasingly specialised in biotech investment, a relatively new sector then, and in 1987 he joined Abingworth Bioventures which he helped to grow into a most successful investment business.

David often used to stay at Court Stairs, my early home, including for my twenty-first. He came on the Rugbeian skiing holidays I used to organise and was then my best man for my marriage to Angela. But an obituary for David is impossible to write without including Amanda to whom he was devoted.

David married Amanda in 1968, and their sons Jonathan and Andrew gave a delightful character view of their father at his Memorial Service, which they based on the letter D because that is what they called their father… D for David and Daddy, but….D is also for Durban where he lived as a young boy, and D is for Delhi, Dubai and the Dordogne which were just some of the many places they explored as a family. D is also for Dar El Jild, or ‘house of leather’ in Arabic which is what they named their lovely home in Marrakesh.

D is for Delicious. David so enjoyed good food and good wine, and their hospitality over the years has been so very generous – Browns Hotel for his 60th, La Gavroche for his 70th and Grange Park Opera with dinner under the colonnade come immediately to mind.

D is for Dedication as he certainly was in his business life. At Binder Hamlyn, Henry Meakin remembers David as the most helpful and considerate person he met when he first joined the firm and they too remained good friends. And at Rothschilds, Jim Blair with whom he worked closely over many years remembers his relaxed personality and the manner in which he could be critical but never condescending.

The wonderful thing about David was that in his very quiet and unassuming way, he was very firm about what he believed in and what he felt was right to do, and his outstanding business success reflects that aspect of his character. He was also very good at building a strong team ethos among those with whom he worked.

D is also for Data because he could never seem to assimilate enough information, and the family despaired of the piles of magazines, newspapers and cuttings he surrounded himself with to be well informed. D is also for Debentures and specifically at Wimbledon where he and Amanda invited many of us to join them to watch the sport he loved so much.

And D is for Donor support. Alongside his generous hospitality, David was very generous in charitable support and patronage. His love of fine art, and particularly for the work of Thomas Sidney Cooper which he catalogued into a definitive record, will remain a fitting legacy, as will his support for Grange Park Opera, and especially after the opera’s move to West Horsley Place. He also supported the Arnold Foundation (he was a Founding Patron of the School’s 450th Anniversary) and more recently, the creation of The Art of British Song. David enjoyed music, not just opera and classical as one might think, but ‘Top of the Pops’ and ‘Country & Western’ were great favourites too!

And finally, D is for Dogmersfield, where he and Amanda had their lovely country home, where he spent his days closeted during Covid and where he lived his last days as well.

We have lost a fine gentleman, and we will all have our memories of David, but his spirit will certainly live on through his family. For me, David will be one of the kindest, nicest people I have known and was privileged to regard him as such a very dear friend.

Adapted from a contribution by Peter Berners-Price (St 56-61), former President of the Rugbeian Society

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