Former Team MBUK downhiller Daniel Hume has been killed in Afghanistan. Dan, 22, who gave up a promising race career to join the British Army, was one of eight soldiers to die in just 24 hours last week.
He was hit by an explosion while on foot patrol near Nad e-Ali in Helmand province on Thursday (9 July), just three months after joining The 4th Battalion The Rifles.
His friends have set up a Facebook page in his honour – click here to view it – and are hoping to organise a memorial ride at Aston Hill in Buckinghamshire on Sunday. Click here for details. In the meantime, tributes have been pouring in.
In a statement, his family said: "Daniel passed out of Catterick [School of Infantry in North Yorkshire] as top recruit and since joining the Army he was the happiest we had known him; he had truly found his place in the world. He believed in what the British Army was trying to achieve and was confident.
"He was proud to serve his country and was planning to move battalion when he returned so that he could guarantee a speedy return to Afghanistan. We have lost a son and a best friend, his death has left a huge void in our lives. We are fiercely proud of him."
Born in Slough, Dan grew up in Maidenhead and started mountain bike racing at the age of 12. He joined the Mountain Biking UK/Scott team in 2002, aged 15, and in his first year as a pro won six downhill races and ended up third in the national rankings, as well as taking second place at the national BSX championships. Two years later he came 42nd overall in the Downhill World Cup.
Realising that he was unlikely to make a career of bike racing, Dan decided to enlist. He planned to become a Royal Marine but had to drop out of training for personal reasons. In April this year, he joined the Rifles, where he had ambitions to become a sniper and hoped one day to be made Regimental Sergeant Major.
Former team-mate Will Longden said: "It was heartbreaking to hear the sad news. When Dan's dad contacted me to let me know, it really made me think about the families and friends and other soldiers that these brave lads leave behind. I'm sure all our thoughts are with them at his time.
"Having read a few comments from commanding officers who had worked with and come into contact with Dan, it was no surprise to me at all to hear them say he was highly motivated, committed to succeed and heading for the top.
"This is the same fine young man I selected for the MBUK/Scott team. A wide-eyed, flat-out enthusiasm for everything he put his efforts into. A great rider and friend of whom I'm immensely proud."
Dan riding at Woburn Sands in 2002 in his Team MBUK/Scott kit (Pic: Dave Franciosy)
Dan's commanding officer, Lt Col Rupert Jones MBE, said: "Rifleman Daniel Hume... was an exceptionally gifted young man who wanted to genuinely do something with his life and it would have been a brave man to bet against him to achieve his ambitions.
"He only arrived in the battalion at the end of April having just passed out from ITC Catterick where he was the top student. However, he was no stranger to success despite being only 22. He was a keen snowboarder, but his passion was downhill mountain bike racing and it was a passion for which he had a genuine talent.
"Rifleman Hume was a young man with extraordinary talent and a real thirst for life... He was a man with boundless energy, naturally fit and a sportsman, with exceptional motivation and will to succeed. Despite all of his ability, he was truly humble and was just one of the riflemen – loved and trusted.
"In difficult times you need men of character who rise to the immense challenges that we ask of our young men; Rifleman Hume was one such man... In the short time he was with 4 Rifles he made a huge impact within B Company. Identified from the outset as a star of the future, he drew rare praise from his company sergeant major and even the senior riflemen had come to rely on him."
Dan at Hamsterley Forest, Country Durham, in 2002 (Pic: Dave Franciosy)