A Tribute to Karl van der Leeden

Karl and I were in Grade 1 together at Hillcrest Primary School and went through our school years all the way to 6th form at Kearsney College.

There were a few of us who went that route. We played in all the sports teams together. Karl was really good at tennis, better than all of us.

We also went to one another’s birthday parties (the dodgy disco type!) and our parents took it in turn to provide transport on our nights out. Our families came to know each other really well.

I will remember Karl as a really genuine guy. He was always friendly and didn’t give anyone a hard time. We joked with Karl about being really well presented all the time, with his hair perfect, and he always took it really well.

I visited Karl when I was back in South Africa in 2011 with my family and the visit had a big impact on us. The way he dealt with his illness was a life changing experience. Karl epitomised bravery and determination. We talked away and reminisced about the ‘good old days’. He told me all about the book he had written and how the characters were based on real people in his life.

Karl and his family have been a big inspiration to many people since his illness started.

Thinking of Karl motivates me to live my life to the full each day, and not to get hung up on the daily worries and issues we face. The Van der Leedens remind me of how important family is and what it is to love and care for those you love, unconditionally.

Fergus Pringle