Gary Spearman holds a very special place in the closing history of the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service and is fondly remembered, particularly by those of Ryde Fire Station, the organisations he represented, those he touched and by none more than his loving family and children. 

When I was a probationary firefighter at Ryde in 1996, Gary was just a boy. He was so enthusiastic about the fire service that on almost every occasion we drilled, on Wednesday evenings, Gary would politely ask if he could stand to one side of the drill yard to watch our efforts. After the drills he always had questions and for one so young showed a remarkable awareness. This was due no doubt to the fact that he had been doing the same thing since before I joined when the station was located in Station Street prior to the move to Nicholson Road.

Recalling his own time when serving as a training officer at Ryde, HIWFRS Deputy Chief Fire Officer Steve Apter stated on Twitter 'I remember Gary as a boy used to love to watch us training & had a passion for public service'.

Gary was unable to join the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service but this didn't prevent him from wholly engaging in public service within the voluntary sector including that of Ryde Inshore Rescue and WightSAR among others. Gary had the ability to make others smile, every encounter was a joy and his enthusiasm for the fire service never ceased as he always had intelligent and informed views and asked me questions about life in the service.

As Gary's illness became more pronounced DCFO Apter was saddened to hear of his plight and it was without hesitation that the decision was made at service headquarters for Gary was to be appointed an Honorary Firefighter in recognition of his years of willing service to the community and support for the fire service.

On 31 March 2021 Firefighter David Lines, a close friend of Gary, and myself, attended the Mountbatten Hospice. On behalf of DCFO Apter we presented the certificate and formally pronounced Gary an Honorary Firefighter of the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service. As this was the last day of the IWFRS, 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 passed away four days later, early in the morning of Sunday 4 April.

Rest in peace Honorary Firefighter Spearman.

Gary enjoying supporting the station's fundraising during the Ryde Carnival of 1999.

The moving Ode to Gary, a reading during the celebration of his life on 19 April 2021.