Tributes have been paid to a popular man who died in a paragliding accident, with his grieving fiancée describing him as “kind, caring, passionate, patient and funny.”
Wayne Seeley, aged 40, died on Tuesday after he collided with power lines in Eastington, Stroud, at around 1.20pm.
Mr Seeley, a former pupil of Rednock School in Dursley, lived with his fiancée, Leanna Bishop, in Eastington, to whom he’d been engaged since October 2019.
Paying tribute to Mr Seeley today, Miss Bishop said: “Wayne was loved by so many. I never knew what true love was till I met Wayne – he was my fiancé, best friend, soulmate, protector and strength who helped me through some tough times and pieced me back together.
“Words don’t do him justice, he was so kind, caring, passionate, patient and funny. We were so happy and were planning to marry this year and start a family. I’m just devastated, I will miss him so much. Till we meet again, my love.”
Graham Steel had been paragliding with Mr Seeley for around 20 years and said the two of them were “like brothers”.
Mr Steel, 52, of Bishop’s Cleeve, said today: “Since receiving the tragic news yesterday of Wayne’s accident I have had many personal messages of condolence which are much appreciated.
“In many messages people relate to us being like brothers and this is true in many ways, we would always talk before any flying day and debrief the day after.
“We had a strange symbiotic relationship when flying with each of us having different skillsets and styles, yet it worked. After so many years of flying as a team we were intuitive to what the other was thinking, we never used radios, a wave of a hand or a nod of the head was usually enough.
“Of the 48 100km fights he did I imagine we must have done 40 of those together. Wayne had an incredible memory when it came to flying, he could remember every flight we did and recount them in detail.
“His flying style was one of the best, he was so good at finding thermals, he had fantastic eyesight and could spot birds thermaling that I could never see. If on a cross country flight he would suddenly go off in a random direction, I always had the faith and would follow him regardless as I knew he would have seen something I hadn’t.
“He was great at finding cores of thermals and was so easy to fly with, always widening his circle to let you join the pattern, that was all part of his selfless attitude, he always wanted us both to land at goal.
“When winching you often don’t get away at the same time but almost always we would join up at one part of the flight or another. It was a great relief to see him because when we got together I knew our chances of success in getting to goal had increased dramatically.
“Without Wayne my years of flying would have been nowhere near as good or successful. He also has kept me safe on many occasions. It was one of the things I respected the most about him – he was his own man, he never succumbed to peer pressure, if he didn’t think it was safe he was happy to pack it up and walk away. I think this attitude was instilled in him from his dad Barry at an early age and from being around free flight all his life.
“It is also what makes this accident even more tragic as he was the last person I would have expected this to happen to.
“He was an integral part of my flying life and I will miss him dearly, he was one of the very best.”
Mr Seeley, who worked in logistics for engineering firm Impcross in Stroud, was renowned for his aerial photography, which he regularly shared on this newspaper’s Gloucestershire Camera Club Facebook page. On Monday evening he shared some stunning pictures of paragliding above the river during sunset.
Camera club member Phil Tomlinson, who knew Mr Seeley through photography, was among those to pay tribute to him.
He said: “I really admired his photos from up above Stroud, and beyond. And loved the sense of freedom he always had. He loved being so high above the world and his passion came through in his photos.
“He was always happy to talk about paragliding and his photos both in person and online. He just seemed to be a really nice bloke and I really looked up to him as someone who enjoyed every day to the full.”
After the accident on Tuesday, a spokesman for Gloucestershire Police said: “Earlier today, around 1.20pm, emergency services were called to a report of a paraglider hitting power lines in Eastington, Stonehouse.
“The local man, aged in his 40s, was paragliding solo when he hit power lines over a nearby field.
“Sadly the man was pronounced dead at the scene and his next of kin has been informed.”
See tomorrow’s Gazette for some of Mr Seeley’s best photos which were published in our camera club over the years.