It is with great sadness that I report the death of Leigh Barnier, killed tragically in an avalanche at the Big White Ski Resort in Canada yesterday. Leigh (21) had been having the time of his life on a working holiday pursuing one of his many passions having completed his degree in Atmospheric Science at Macquarie Uni late last year.

On top of his bridge expertise, Leigh was also a State and National representative swimmer as well as being a passionate surfer and surf-lifesaver at North Narrabeen. But most importantly, Leigh was a fantastic character, much loved by his friends and family and nobody who knew him will forget his humour, positive outlook, caring nature, taste for Jazz music and his endless promotion of the game of bridge.

Leigh's most famous bridge moment occurred moments before a race in the 2006 Australian National Swimming Championships. As he was introduced in his lane (covered by FoxSports) he held up a sign saying 'Learn Bridge' to promote the game he thought was worthy of more publicity. After the race, and swimming a PB, he was interviewed by Nicole Stevenson who asked him about the sign and heard all about his passion for bridge.

This time last year, we were all playing with Leigh in the Australian Youth Pairs Championship in Canberra, which he immediately followed up with a trip to Luxumbourg for an International Swimming meet.

On behalf of the bridge community our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Leigh at this time.

Nick Rodwell
January 9, 2008