THE family of Gary Spearman, who died of skin cancer at just 37, have thanked the Isle of Wight community for the outpouring of love and tributes since his death on Easter Sunday.

Gary, a dedicated community volunteer, leaves behind partner Emily Harrison and three young children, Jaydon, nine, Poppy, six, and Toby, two.

He was only diagnosed with melanoma in September after suffering a seizure.

His father Alan said: "He was well loved by a lot of people so there's been a lot of heartbreak.

"However, it was fantastic to see so many tributes from the community and the emergency services, we cried most of the day.

"He would have been so proud, and we are so proud of him."

As Gary was a keen scooterist and Lambretta fan, his friends are doing a ride out from Seaclose to Ryde Inshore Rescue on Sunday morning as a tribute. Covid restrictions apply.

Isle of Wight County Press: Community volunteer Gary Spearman.Community volunteer Gary Spearman.

Gary was a dedicated search and rescue volunteer who died just four days after being made an honorary firefighter.

He yearned to become a firefighter, but was unable to.

However, he threw his heart and soul into volunteering for the emergency services, serving with Ryde Inshore Rescue, WightSAR, and Sandown and Shanklin Independent Lifeboat, among others.

On the final day of the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service, and knowing Mr Spearman was very poorly, deputy chief fire officer Steve Apter appointed him as an honorary firefighter.

The ceremony was held at Mountbatten Hospice.

In attendance were firefighters Damon Corr and David Lines.

Damon wrote on the IW Fire Brigades Federation website: "Gary shall always be remembered as the service's final appointment.

"The emotion on his face when he realised the significance of the moment was something that David and I shall never forget.

"It was the right thing to do for a young man who had given so much of his life for the good of others."

Gary grew up in Ryde and went to Dover Park Primary, Mayfield Middle and Ryde High schools.

He had lots of different jobs but he preferred his time with the rescue services. He was also a keen photographer.

He leaves his partner and children, mum Jane, dad Alan, stepmum Sharon, brother Dean, sister Niki and stepbrothers Adam and Phil.

A funeral service will take place at the Isle of Wight Crematorium on April 19 at 1.30pm.