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Shoebury family's pride for son who died in Spanish crash
A SOUTHEND man has died in a tragic car accident in Spain, on his wedding anniversary.
Language teacher Gary Sydney-Smith, 37, has been described as a “true English gentleman” who helped shape the lives of hundreds of youngsters.
He was killed after his BMW crashed in a notorious tunnel near his home town of Suria, in northern Spain.
He had just finished a game of squash and was on his way to buy his beloved wife of 15 years, Eva, an anniversary present when his car hit the entrance to a dangerous tunnel, killing him instantly.
Gary, who had moved to Spain 17 years ago to be with Spanish-born Eva, was so popular in his community, where he was the only Englishman, that the town came to a standstill on the day of his funeral.
His family have been left devastated by the crash, but take comfort in the fact he had such an influence on educating children in Suria by teaching them English.
Along with Eva, he ran his own private language school in Suria, a well-known potassium-mining town, and the couple had a nine-year-old son, Pol.
Gary, who grew up in Thorpedene Gardens, Shoebury , would also volunteer his free time to teach the Spanish miners how to speak English, as well as going into public schools to help out with classes.
His dad Bill and mum Angela, as well as sisters Janine, 31 and Vanessa, 40, will hold a service of thanksgiving in Southend remembering Gary’s life on Saturday, October 27.
Bill, 73, recalled hearing about his son’s death.
He said: “We got the call at 2.45am. I can’t tell you what that was like.
“We rushed out to Spain to be with Eva and Pol, who are obviously devastated.
“The funeral was held in Suria.
“As we walked to the church, I thought some sort of riot was going on as there were thousands of people, police, families, young and old, just crammed into the street.
“It suddenly dawned on us they were all there for Gary.
“I had Spanish people coming up and hugging me all day, saying how much Gary had done for their town.”
Gary’s ashes were split up, with half brought back to Southend by Bill and Angela and the other half remaining with Eva, who plans to scatter them on a mountain near the couple’s home.
Bill added: “It’s so hard to think of life without him.
“We brought some of Gary’s things home with us.
“My wife has been sleeping in Gary’s T-shirts every night and cuddles his dressing gown. It’s our way of keeping him close.
“He will always be with us. He was our lovely boy and we are so proud of everything he achieved.”