I would like to say a few words about Daniel.
I first met and became friends with Dan when we started secondary school together 16 years ago. Those that knew him will be aware that he was in many regards a talented individual and I hope that along with that people will recall that his talents were accompanied by a kind and modest nature. Academically, he excelled in the sphere of mathematics to the extent that he was one of the top mathematicians in his age group in the country.
I remember first finding out about both his mathematical ability and his modesty early on in our friendship. At the end of our first term of our first year at City of London School, the results of a series of maths tests that our class had sat throughout the term were read out in reverse order. I, and the rest of the class, thought we knew which group of boys the top positions would go to. These were basically boys who had made no secret of their abilities. I can remember when the second position had been read out and the last of this group of boys nameís had filled it. Nobody could think who had been omitted. It was of course Dan who had come top and if I remember correctly he had not got a single question wrong in any of the tests. It had not occurred to Dan to mention to even his friends how well he had been doing and his modesty never lessened in the face of his continued academic success. Iím sure that it will come as no surprise to anybody that Dan would always spare the time to help his friends if they were struggling with any maths questions; something he would do with great clarity and patience.
Dan also continued the Sacks family tradition of being an outstanding middle and long-distance runner. I suspect that several people here will remember seeing him out training along the parks and streets of Goldersí Green and Hendon, especially in March and April when his London marathon preparation became extremely serious. It was Danís drive and motivation that allowed him to harness this natural talent and I can remember how pleased he was when he shattered the three-hour mark for the marathon. For those not in the know, that is an extremely impressive time. Of course, as well as setting fast times, Dan also raised much money for charity through sponsorship over a number of years.
As well as admiring Danís academic and athletic talents, I have always valued his friendship and just spending time with him. He was a formidable opponent at word games and at snooker and he was without doubt the best sport I have ever met. It made losing to him ďalmostĒ palatable.
Dan was also the most honest person I have known. I think he was entirely incapable of insincerity.
We went on holiday together several times and his easy-going nature and good sense made him an excellent travelling companion. I can remember one time when instead of getting off our train in the centre of Prague as we had intended, we got off at a station in the far-flung outskirts of that city and well away from the area covered by our city-centre tourist maps. Unlike me, Dan was not fazed by being lost in a foreign city with night approaching. He calmly produced a compass that he had sensibly thought to pack and guided us through a maze of roads and parks straight to our youth hostel.
It was also on holiday that I first realised that Dan was somebody whose natural untidiness exceeded even my own and this was a trait to which he gave full rein when he moved into his own place.
Those that knew him will especially miss his sense of humour. As Dan was a quiet man, on first acquaintance one could easily miss his dry and occasionally cutting wit as well as his impressive knowledge of the scripts of The Simpsons and Blackadder.
But no description of Dan would do him any form of justice if it did not mention that, more than anybody else I know, he was prepared to do the spadework of building, cultivating and maintaining friendships. By this I mean that he would have no hesitation in going out of his way to help and be there for his friends and he would not let friendships drift apart. He would always be there to talk to if you were not having a good day and his humility and entirely unjudgemental nature would put you at ease. I sincerely hope that he realised that he could have relied upon all those many people who knew they could rely on him.
For those who did not know Dan, or who did not know him well enough, I hope that I have given a small indication of what he was like and why I valued his friendship so much. I consider myself fortunate to have known Dan for the time that I did and will greatly miss a quiet man whose humility and acts of kindness spoke loudly and touched all who knew him. I wish Joanna, Brian, Jessica and all Danielís family a long life and I know that they have all our sympathies at this extremely difficult time.
Ian Zeider, 8th November 2005