Commander Leslie Edward Ayling RN (Retd)
Edward Ayling was born in 1928 at Gillingham, Kent and was very proud to
be a Man of Kent. In the winter of 1943/44, at the tender age of 15, he
followed in his father's footsteps and joined the Royal Navy at Rosyth
as an artificer. He quickly showed his mettle and passed out well ahead
of his contemporaries. By his early twenties, his potential was fully
appreciated by his superiors and he was commissioned as an electronics
and weapons engineer.
keen sea-going man, he served on many ships including HMS Carysfort as
WEO from 1966-68. His final
sea going appointment was in HMS Phoebe, the fictional HMS Hero of the
famous 1970’s television series 'Warship'.
a visit to Gibraltar in the summer of 73, during the filming of
‘Warship’, Leslie was introduced at the United Services Officers’
to Gladys Margaret Buttigieg, a teacher. By all accounts Margaret, whom
Leslie described as a ‘beautiful gazelle’, caught Leslie's eye and
their romance began. Thereafter, Leslie took every opportunity to visit
Margaret in Gibraltar and in March 1974, on Margaret’s birthday, they
mid 1974, Leslie managed to get his appointers to post him to
Gibraltar as the
Systems Engineer. In December 1974, on Leslie's birthday, he married
Margaret. Over the next three years Leslie thoroughly enjoyed his tour
on the Rock. He was responsible for all naval communication and weapon
control systems and helped set up the troposcatter communication system.
In 1977 Leslie decided he wanted to remain in Gibraltar and he left his
beloved Royal Navy to manage the United Services Officers’ Club, a job
offered to him by his former Commanding Officer.
next few years were not easy. In accepting the modestly-paid Club
Manager’s job, he’d placed himself, unwittingly, in a pension-trough
and he could no longer count on the comforting cushion of service
quarters. He had outside commitments and he had to find some form of
this time he had the vision to realize that there was a future in estate
agency work in Gibraltar and Spain. This was a bold move for one of
limited means and it was not easy to get going. For a start, the border
had been closed for over 8 years. This meant long trips by boat to
Estepona and a lot of hard bargaining in what was then a very basic,
under-developed market. Leslie found himself a pioneer in estate
agency work, a process that was certainly not made easier by a frontier
that remained obstinately shut. For the first couple of years, the
business made very little money. But, in spite of all the warning signs,
he persevered, keeping faith in what he considered bright prospects for
property on the Costa del Sol and
his belief that the border would once again be opened.
part of his naval gratuity, they scraped together enough to buy a
small flat in Estepona and their visits to Spain became more frequent.
Margaret, by then, had managed to get herself a teaching job with
shorter hours and in 1979, Leslie persuaded her to leave teaching
altogether and join the business full-time. This was a brave move as
profits were hard to come by.
by little they managed to get on their feet and by 1983 they were ready
to build a villa in the well-known development of Hacienda Guadalupe,
closer to Gibraltar. By this time they had succeeded in taking over
the development of Punta Almina, by Sabinillas, and later, Aldea Beach.
These were important projects numbering 200 and 500 properties
respectively and they firmly established Leslie's reputation as a major
force in the estate agency business. In 1985 they turned their
attention to the prestigious resort of Sotogrande and felt brave enough
to build themselves a villa at the centre of the urbanization. By now
they had gathered enough momentum to run offices in various locations up
and down the Costa del Sol and they were selling properties from
Algeciras to Malaga.
single-handedly, he persuaded expatriates to buy property in the very
Spanish town of Pueblo Nuevo, adjacent to Sotogrande - hitherto the home
exclusively of local Spaniards. Leslie was highly regarded everywhere,
not just for his estate agency work but for his keen business sense
and unswerving integrity. And at his side, he had the one person he
could rely on without reservation, through thick and thin -
his beloved wife and business partner, Margaret.
it was not all wine and roses. In the mid eighties Leslie developed
cancer and from then on had to undergo regular treatment to keep the
dreaded disease at bay. Nevertheless, not one to be deflected by such a
trifling matter, he continued to develop his business and to
participate fully in the social life of Sotogrande.
was a keen golfer and member of Real Sotogrande Golf Club. His easy
attractive personality made him many friends and he loved to take the
odd break from his gruelling schedule to enjoy the occasional game or
was an attractive man, not just because of his good looks but because of
his charm and friendliness. Upon meeting him one was anxious to continue
in his company and he, in turn, was generous with his attention.
were some, however, who thought his calm and easy manner indicated a
soft touch. Those
who tried to take him for a ride were soon disabused of this notion when
they realized they were up against a steely and determined naval
officer, ready to provide a robust response to any form of chicanery.
his last year, Leslie became progressively more ill and Margaret put
aside her work in the office to devote herself exclusively to caring for
him. Those who were close to them could not help but he hugely impressed
by the loving care and attention she lavished on him. But there
was to be no magic outcome and, on the 28th September, Leslie, the
perfect uncomplaining patient, succumbed to his illness and passed away.
Edward Ayling RN (Retd) was born on 17 December 1928 and died on 28
September 2005, aged 76.