TRIBUTES have been paid to a much-loved father-of-two who was killed in a house fire.

Gerald Ronald Lea, known as Garry, died when a blaze ripped through his home on Bryn Isa Road, Brynteg.

Speaking ahead of his funeral on Friday, his family have paid a moving tribute to the former soldier.

His brother Reece said: “The family is shocked by the tragic loss, but find comfort by the messages of support we have received regarding Garry’s contribution within the community.

“As well as being regarded as a good neighbour, his enthusiasm and qualifications helped, particularly with youth leadership.

“In addition Garry supported any worthwhile local initiatives and gave help wherever he could.”

Mr Lea, 60, last worked as a trainer and gym instructor at Waterworld in Wrexham, but retired after suffering with an old injury.

When he was younger he also ran the youth club in Brynteg.

He was a keen sportsman and he studied for a foundation degree as a mature student at Liverpool University in sports science, before gaining his degree from Glyndwr University.

In his younger years he had represented the county at pole vault and had served with the Parachute Regiment in Northern Ireland during the 1970s.

His brother said that in recent years Mr Lea had been unable to take part in the sports he loved due to a chronic injury he suffered many years ago in a motorbike crash.

He said: “Garry was very athletic and as a young man he was very fit. Unfortunately he had a motorbike accident many years ago that damaged his leg and left him with a chronic injury that got worse over the years.”

Mr Lea, who died on May 4, leaves his children Grant and Hannah.

The funeral takes place at St Paul’s Church, Pentre Broughton, on Friday at 11am.