I first met Mr Duncan when he shared his umbrella with me standing in line for the London Summer Proms. That was Mr Duncan in a nutshell - thoughtful, kind, generous.
We’d see each other socially at company events, but our friendship deepened when he was planning the trip of a lifetime - driving his Land Rover around the world, starting in Perth.
We stayed in touch as he travelled, messaging every few days as he related his exploits: escaping flash flooding in the Kimberleys, being best man at his friend’s wedding, learning to surf at Coolangatta and driving long distances to detour around bush-fires in Victoria.
One day Mr Duncan said ‘you’re more than welcome to join me at the ends of the earth if you want a break from London’.
Famous last words.
So I found a cheap flight and joined Mr Duncan for what was intended to be a two week trip into the Australian Outback. We ended up spending the next ten months travelling in Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Cambodia and driving home overland from South Africa.
What we each recognised in the other was a love of adventure, and a partner in crime who could be relied upon. Mr Duncan learned to dive in Thailand, trekked to see the gorillas in Rwanda and scared the living daylights out of me, driving down the ridiculously steep and snowy Sani Pass out of Lesotho.
We woke to elephants eating leaves from the tree we were camping under, white water rafted down the Nile, slept under the stars in the crater of an extinct volcano in Namibia and splurged on a luxury safari trip to the Okovango Delta.
Together we dealt with flat tyres and busted shock absorbers in the middle-of-nowhere Tanzania, being held up by tribe members with AK47s in the badlands between Kenya and Ethiopia, and multiple attempted shakedowns by local officials everywhere.
When we reached Khartoum, I flew back to the UK for Christmas. It took Mr Duncan another six weeks to drive back to London. By the time he was home we realised how much we missed each other and agreed to start “dating”.
A little over a year later we’d moved in together and were trying for a baby. Mr Duncan was confident he would be the father of a little girl. This led to a conversation about where we’d want to raise our family and Australia offered the open spaces and outdoor lifestyle we wanted, along with satisfying work opportunities for us both.
Two weeks after Mr Duncan’s visa was granted and our flights were booked, I discovered I was pregnant with Pickle. And thus started our most important and unpredictable adventure yet - parenthood.
Mr Duncan was an amazing Dad.
He was hands-on from the start and it was his desire to be more present for his daughter that led to his working from home.
With Pickle, Mr Duncan's sense of adventure took a different path. He always found the time to help her to explore the world around her and explain the little mysteries she uncovered.
He delighted in his daughter, as she did in him and they shared a very close relationship full of all sorts of Daddy-and-Pickle-only games and secrets.
I miss Mr Duncan more than I can comprehend,
-his gentle strength,
-his depth of knowledge,
-his thoughtful opinion,
-his technical acumen,
-his sparkling wit
... and his unwavering faith in me.
I am heartbroken for Pickle, that she will grow up without him by her side.
But I will remember Mr Duncan as someone who embraced life to it’s fullest and can only hope I raise Pickle to feel the same sense of optimism and adventure in life as her Dad.