Les Disbrey laying a wreath on 1 July 2001.
Les Disbrey laying a wreath on 1 July 2001.
Image courtesy of Clive Gilbert ©2015

This is without doubt one of the hardest things I have been asked to do - or to write.

To sum up in a few minutes what made Les so special. And indeed why he was so beloved and respected by us all.

Nothing I can say here will ever ease the enormous pain of what Renee and the Disbrey family are going through at the moment and in the weeks to come.

But this is to express a little of what we, those who were proud and privileged to be called his friends, are feeling at this time.

Each of us here today are well aware of the qualities Les had in such abundance.

First and above all was his uncompromising integrity. Les was a moral beacon to us all - you knew his decision was based solely on what was right and true and not on prevailing fashion, fad or opinion.

There was his kindness- we could all offer countless examples of how Les has, when we needed it most, been there for us all.

There was his wisdom and wise counsel. Most days for the past quarter of a century I have picked up the phone to Les and Renee and shared a problem or a dilemma - sure of the knowledge that what he would say would invariably be the right thing to do.

His mischievous humour and his unforgettable laughter were never far away.

There was his enormous experience. For Les as we know had a long and successful career in banking. He understood people and their sometimes peculiar ways - always seen with an affectionate, understanding eye.

Then there was his humanity, his compassion for the underdog and his love of life.

His financial prudence came naturally. He was a dedicated Treasurer of the Friends since the day it was founded and his skilled stewardship of its funds always meant Lochnagar was in healthy state to meet its needs.

The fact that the Crater looks the best it has ever done is, in no small part, down to his, and Renee's steady and insightful guidance over the years.

The list goes on.

There was his extraordinary generosity of spirit and his warmth and hospitality - especially to new friends and of course with Renee, David and Clare the fellowship of their wonderful barbecues at the farm.

And of course his never-ending courage and cheerfulness in adversity - even during recent times when he steadfastly faced overwhelming health problems.

Les would have made a good man to have alongside you in a trench.

And in writing this, and bringing together on paper all these qualities a thought struck me.

It wasn't just these qualities that made Les so respected and so loved by us all.

It was the fact that he had all these qualities in such extraordinary abundance that made him the unforgettable person that he was.

And I will finish by saying this.

It's not simply that we won't forget Les.

We cannot forget Les - even if we tried.

At any time of the day we will suddenly remember his face, his infectious smile, hear his laughter, his strong handshake, we will see him sitting at the kitchen table surrounded by countless slips of paper and neat piles of 5 euro notes and as always by his side, the equally loved Renee.

And of course, we will always half expect to see the faithful PLAIR gently come to a halt at the place he loved most of all - Lochnagar.

He is embedded forever in the minds and memories of those of us who were fortunate to be counted as his friends.

And that is not in the past tense, but in the present.

Les was the rarest, most special of men.

A remarkable character who will remain within each of us for the rest of our days.

Richard Dunning 2015

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