Family, friends and colleagues of John Shearman, assistant director of the marine department, are mourning his sudden death from a stroke on February 29. Mr Shearman, who was born in England in 1935, leaves a wife and a five-year-old daughter, and three adult children from a previous marriage. Marine director Ian Dale, who had known Mr Shearman for more than 24 years, said: 'John was a close friend and colleague who will be sadly missed. 'It is still hard to believe he has died. I was talking with him about his future plans for retirement barely 12 hours before. 'My heartfelt sympathy goes out to his family, particularly to his wife Kitty and their young daughter Anne.' Mr Shearman completed his marine education at The Thames Nautical Training College HMS Worcester, before joining his first ship as a deck cadet in 1953. He spent 13 years in the merchant navy, rising to the rank of captain. From 1962 to 1970, he worked for the Harley Mullion and Kian Hin Leong shipping companies in Hong Kong. In 1970 he joined the marine department as a marine officer, and went on to hold positions in nearly all areas of departmental activities. He was on pre-retirement leave at the time of his death.