A FORMER paratrooper and popular figure in and around his native village of Niton has died, aged 74.

Alan “Nobby” Clarke was taken ill suddenly at his home in Godshill and died shortly afterwards in St Mary’s Hospital, Newport.

Mr Clarke was born in Niton on January 23, 1946, where he developed his lifetime enjoyment of country pursuits, a love of his dogs and a liking for motorbikes.

He also enjoyed reading. He would quote from the works of favourites Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens, as well as being well-versed in military history books.

He started his working life on the Island as an apprenticed plasterer and always valued the skills of his craft and was much sought after for his expertise.

In his early 20s, Mr Clarke decided on a change of direction in his career and took up the challenge of life in The Parachute Regiment.

He saw active service in the Aden conflict in the late 1960s.

In less deadly confrontations, he excelled in the boxing ring as a heavyweight in Army sport.

Three generations of his family, including himself, were members of the Paras.

His father, James, saw Second World War service in airborne operations on D-Day. His son, Jamie, served in the Paras as well, rising to the position of Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM).

Mr Clarke’s other son, Jonathan, also joined up and served in The Princess of Wales’s Own Regiment, also becoming an RSM.

Despite his notable military service, Mr Clarke decided to return to Civvy Street and resume his work as a plasterer, including working on some specialised contracts from manor houses to the Isle of Wight Magistrates’ Court building in Newport.

Mr Clarke is survived by his partner, Dawn, sons Jamie and Jonathan, daughter Naomi, step-son Paul and grandchildren Jas, Ellie, Ryan, Dan, Meadow, James and Liam.

The funeral will be on Friday, December 11. Due to Covid restrictions on numbers attending, anyone wishing to pay their respects is invited to line the route from his home in Yarborough Close, Godshill, at 10.15am on the day, as the funeral cortege passes by.

Family flowers only. Donations may be made to Help For Heroes or the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA), via William Hall Independent Funeral Directors.