A NEWPORT man, who “loved the sea and lived for the Merchant Navy Association”, has died aged 79.

Bert Bale was the head of the Merchant Navy Association in Newport for 16 years, from its inception.

His efforts in organising parades both in Newport and London, campaigning for monuments and general organisation of the association won him friends and admirers across the UK and particularly in Newport.

Mr Bale, who grew up in Maesglas, was head of the association when it secured the freedom of the city for the Merchant Navy in 2002.

In 2011, he was awarded the Extra Mile award by Newport council for his service to the city, and was three times nominated for the MBE.

His wife of 39 years, Wendy, said: “He loved the sea and he lived for the Merchant Navy Association.”

He was a perfectionist and would spend hours organising the parades.

Mrs Bale joked: “If he saw us now he’d want to organise the interview and make sure it was perfect and we didn’t forget anything.

“But he also loved the company he got from the events and the phone calls, he was a real people person.

“We made so many friends through the Merchant Navy.”

Mr Bale, who served in the Welsh Guards in Egypt as well as being in the Merchant Navy, was said to never be without a collar and a tie, and pristinely polished shoes.

The couple, who were said by friends to be a great team, attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace in recognition of Mr Bale’s work as parade co-ordinator for Merchant Navy Day, which takes place on September 3 in London each year and is attended by thousands of people.

Mrs Bale said their experiences had brought them “a lot of happiness”.

Mr Bale died peacefully at the Royal Gwent Hospital in the early hours of Monday after a long fight against bowel cancer.

Mrs Bale wanted to thank people for all the phone calls and cards and in particular thank St Anne’s Hospice and St David’s Hospice in Newport for their care.