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Originally published by The Times, Saturday May 02, 2020, 12:01am.

David Buchanan


David Buchanan

Rugby Player who Wooed with Smarties

For David Buchanan, who played tighthead prop at the front of the scrum, rugby was the mainstay of his life. He played at school, where he captained the Eastern Counties, at university and into his twenties, thirties and forties for Richmond FC.

His physique was also suited to boxing, and he became the heavyweight university champion. He was not that tall at 5ft 11in — in his twenties he liked to wear Cuban heels — but he had a nimbleness learnt in the boxing ring that he would put to use on the dancefloor. He was a great mover with a good sense of rhythm who was always the first to dance.

David was born in 1941 in Chelmsford, Essex, to Francis, an accountant, and Zena (née Felgate), a secretary. War rations were tight, leaving him with a sweet tooth that he liked to satisfy for the rest of his life. He melted the heart of his future wife, Lalage Jervis-Reed, a secretary, by leaving tubes of Smarties on her desk when she took a lunch break.

After Brentwood school in Essex David went to Trinity College Dublin where he stayed for seven yearse as he switched from medicine to science before settling on a history degree. He captained the rugby team and played for Leinster after university and then trialled for Ireland. Returning to London, he formed what would be an enduring connection to Richmond Football Club where he was president in the 1990s when rugby turned professional. Off the pitch, he made friends that stood by him for life.

David married Lalage in 1975 in Chelsea Old Church and worked as a business manager at Milchem, which made oilfield chemicals. They had three children: Henry, an insurance underwriter, Simon, a data protection specialist, and Polly, an author.

In the 1980s David started an office-cleaning business that he would run for the next 30 years. Standards were high and he rose daily at 3am to check each site had been cleaned well.

In 2007 Lalage died and two years later David married Penny Thompson, known as ''Topsy''. It was another happy union not least thanks to David's generosity of spirit. He was always the first to pick up restaurant bills and was known to ask for the best steak to take home to his beloved basset hounds, Hoover, Percy and Primrose.

In April David succumbed to the coronavirus.