31st January 1985 – 17th September 2005
Jonathan was coming to the end of his first year as a trainee surveyor at the commercial property consultants King Sturge in Leeds, and without doubt had a bright future. He loved the job and the people with whom he worked. He was a talented sportsman but his main love was soccer.
As a schoolboy he was a member of the highly successful Wakefield Schools’ FA under 11 team in 1995/96, and continued to represent the District through to the final under 15 age group in 1999/2000. He was a member of Rotherham United’s Academy side and was voted player of the season for his College 1st XI and for the Castleford & District FA side in 2002. He made his full debut for Pontefract Collieries 1st XI in the Northern Counties East League in April 2002. Throughout this time he also endeavoured to play for his local sides Ackworth United and St. Joseph’s where he had much success. There are so many people who had an influence, through football, on his life and we must all be grateful for that privilege.
He was playing for Winterton Rangers in the NCEL and for his local team, the Carleton Hotel, at the time of his death. Jonathan loved the game, the banter, the contacts and the friendships he had made through soccer. He was living life to the full and it is devastating that all this has been torn away from him, his family and his friends. However, Jonathan will be forever young and must now be remembered in name as a fundraiser, so that as many families as possible do not have to bear the loss we experience now. In doing so we will ensure that he did not die in vain and that his legacy will live on.
Jonathan arrived home from work at around 18.30 on Friday September 16th. We had tea together and he was in good form as usual. He’d received information from Sheffield Hallam University about the day release course he was due to start the following week and was telling us about how well he was going to do. He went out with friends for the evening, as was usual for a Friday night, and returned home just before midnight. I didn’t bother getting up to speak to him – hearing them arrive safely home is always enough. He went on the computer for a while before going to bed – I checked afterwards and he had been choosing his Fantasy Football teams for the weekend.
That was the last time we heard him. My eldest daughter found him on Saturday morning. He had died in his sleep. The post mortem was inconclusive and we are awaiting the results of detailed medical tests before the inquest can be re-opened. There are no suspicious circumstances and all the toxicology tests were completely clear. Jonathan was apparently fit and healthy and had not complained of any symptoms. The only medication he ever took was for hay fever through the summer months.
Fundraising has already started with Jonathan’s friends – they have been so supportive to the family. The first major fund-raising event – a Sportsman’s Dinner – was held in Pontefract on Thursday November 24th 2005 and raised in excess of £7000. This was a fantastic effort by all concerned at the Carleton FC who organised the event. As well as this, the ‘Jonny Leigh Memorial Fund’ has already raised over £5000 and we are grateful to so many people for their kindness and support at this tragic time.
I have recently completed a cycle ride from Hartlepool to Brentford to raise money for CRY and presented Alison with a cheque for £1,000 at the recent Bereavement Support Day in London. My eldest daughter’s boyfriend, Oli Melton, has just returned from Paris having completed the London to Paris Bike Ride, again raising over £1,000 for CRY.