WELL-KNOWN Lymington industrialist, philanthropist and charity supporter Leon Crouch – who served two brief spells as chairman of Southampton Football Club – has died.
Mr Crouch, who was 70 and the father of three daughters, passed away in Oakhaven Hospice after suffering from cancer. He died at 7.30am today (Friday).
The businessman played a huge role in New Forest life over the past few decades: he founded the Fuller’s Group of engineering firms, battled with planners to create the Gordleton Industrial Estate and gave money to many worthy causes.
Daughter Hannah Leonardi told the A&T: “Sadly he passed away at Oakhaven Hospice at 7.30am this morning.
“We will be having a very private family funeral followed by a public memorial service, so the many people who knew him can come along.”
Mr Crouch’s two other daughters are Lara and Louise.
Latterly he had been the chairman of the League of Friends of the Lymington New Forest Hospital and remained a director of companies and management bodies.
They included Lymington engineering firm Sea Talk Systems and the management group which oversees the running of the Gordleton Industrial Estate.
Mr Crouch, who lived at Normandy Lane, Lymington, was known to be was a supporter and member of a number of sports clubs and had boxed for Lawrence Boys Boxing Club in Lymington in his younger days.
A passionate Southampton FC fan, he was a popular figure among many supporters who heralded him as the club’s saviour when it hit financial troubles in 2007.
Mr Crouch ploughed in his own money – reportedly up to £500,000 – when the club’s very existence was threatened, and paid some of the players’ wages.
That involvement led to him having two short spells as the club’s chairman in 2008 and 2009.
He also paid out of his own pocket for a replacement bronze statue outside the ground of club legend Ted Bates, which remains at St Mary’s today.
Mr Crouch still had a box at the club and up until recently was often seen mingling with its past and present stars on match days and at charity events.