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Tributes paid to 'gentle and loving' swan expert Peter Leighton
TRIBUTES have been paid to a ‘gentle and loving’ Weymouth man who was ‘devoted’ to the town’s swans.
Peter Leighton, 85, died peacefully, after an illness.
His widow Barbara spoke of how the town’s swans would gather around Mr Leighton whenever he would visit.
She said: “He would call them and they would come waddling up to him but never to me. It was amazing.”
She also recalled how the couple would be called out ‘at any time of day or night’ to help an injured or tired swan.
She said: “He would go out, and wrap them in a towel and sit with them on the passenger seat.”
Mr Leighton is fondly remembered for playing an important part in supporting the friendship between Weymouth and its twin town Louviers.
Former Weymouth and Portland mayor Roy Gainey, who also went to school with Mr Leighton, proposed the resort make a gift of two swans to the French town in 1971.
Mr Gainey said: “I went to Peter and asked for his help.
“We took them over on a boat and Peter delivered them to Louviers carrying one under each arm, and released them on to the water.”
Four more swans were given to Louviers in subsequent years and it is thought their descendants now number around 200.
Mrs Leighton said: “He was devoted to the swans – I don’t think they ever had an official swan keeper again after he retired.
“He was a big man but very gentle, very loving.”
PETER Leighton was a devoted family man, and married Barbara, his second wife, in 1983 at St Ann’s Church in Radipole.
His first wife Elizabeth died in a tragic car accident.
From 1941 to 1988 he worked on, and was later responsible for, all the parks in Weymouth and Portland.
In his spare time he was also a member of the cine and video club and of the Royal Naval Auxiliary, based on Portland, where he was a keen cook.