Flags were flown at half-mast at lifeboat stations across the Island, following the death of Gary Spearman who died on Sunday after a brave battle with cancer.
Although Gary wanted to become a fireman from an early age, he was unable to do so and, instead, volunteered for the emergency services, serving with WightSAR, Ryde Inshore Rescue, and Sandown and Shanklin Independent Lifeboat.
Last week, Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Steve Apter, on his final day before retiring from the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service, appointed him an honorary firefighter. The ceremony was held at Mountbatten Hospice, with 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.”
WightSAR paid tribute to Gary on Facebook, saying: “We are deeply saddened to hear that one of our dedicated ex-team members and friend, Gary Spearman, lost his battle with cancer over the weekend.
“We join our colleagues from Sandown & Shanklin Independent Lifeboat, Ryde Inshore Rescue, Bembridge Coastguard and The British Red Cross in paying tribute to Gary’s selfless volunteer service over the years.
“Gary was also made an honorary firefighter as his health deteriorated, reflecting his long passion for the fire service. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.”