A POPULAR man who served in the Parachute Regiment, Gary Bailey, has died aged 63.

Mr Bailey, born in Gurnard on September 21, 1956, spent his childhood playing in the fields and farms surrounding his home in Rew Street.

His wide range of interests included bird watching, customising bikes, fishing and boxing.

High school provided a platform for him to flourish with mechanical and electrical subjects, notably in building a car with his friend Jonathan Cherry for one of his school projects.

Mr Bailey’s working life began at the British Hovercraft Corporation in East Cowes as an apprentice electrician.

Following a failed attempt to get work on oil rigs, he joined the Paras in 1978.

Three years in the regiment proved pivotal in the direction of his life, with lasting friendships built, disciplines learned and a wide range of travel possible.

It was when based at Edinburgh Castle he met Michelle, his first wife and mother to his three children — Dean, Tony and Kerry.

Living in Edinburgh, Mr Bailey put his skills as a Para to good use by becoming a steeplejack.

His energy and interest in later life saw him focus on Tai Chi and learning Spanish.

His quest to learn Spanish took him and his trusty Triumph 1050 Speed Triple through Spain to take in the culture and sights, while studying the language.

While staying with families in Cuba in 2004, he met his second wife, Marbelis. They married in Cuba, but settled in Scotland, before his work moved them to Manchester.

In November 2018, after many years away, Mr Bailey returned to the Island and settled in Northwood with Marbelis and her two boys, Adrian and Jorge.

His love for the natural world often took him out to Newtown with his father’s old binoculars, to keep a keen eye out for sea eagles that would often circle high above Northwood.

Mr Bailey is survived by Marbelis and his five children, plus siblings Penny and Mark.

A service attended by close friends and family took place at the IW Crematorium, Whippingham, on August 28, with a eulogy provided by close friend, John Nicholson.