Tributes have been pouring in for Flintshire County Councillor Kevin Hughes who died at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital after a long battle against Covid-19.

It came less than three weeks after he delivered a passionate appeal from his hospital bed to people to observe social distancing during the Christmas and New Year period.

Kevin, 63, said then: “I can’t express it enough, be sensible and think about what you’re doing. Every bed in here is full, they can’t cope with any more. For the sake of a day, one night out, a Christmas dinner or a party, it’s just not worth it. It’s really not worth it.”

He had planned to do a Coast to Coast walk this year in aid of Hope House but his death follows that of his mother, June Margaret Hughes, 89, also from the virus on November 25 at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

Kevin had visited her briefly in PPE and accepted that going to the hospital may have caused him to contract the disease but he added: “I don’t know how I got it, whether it was visiting my mum, it might have been in the shop or in the garage. I just don’t know.”

He was born in Chester and attended Queen’s Park High School, Handbridge, and leaves a wife, Sally, with whom he celebrated 40 years of marriage three years ago, sons Chris, Steve and Andy, and seven grandchildren.

Son Andy posted on Facebook: “At 12.45 this morning Dad passed away. He gave the biggest battle and we are so, so proud of him, not only in the final few weeks but over an incredible 63 years walking this earth, making his mark on it in a way that only he could.

“We can’t believe how many people have been in contact from all over the world these last few weeks. It made us understand how loved he was.

“We can’t thank the Critical Care Unit enough for the tireless efforts to get Dad to beat Covid. It’s just such a horrible, cruel virus that when it lands on your doorstep rocks your world.”

In a varied career Kevin Joined Cheshire Constabulary and was a police diver during his service and after his retirement worked for a time as head diver at the Blue Planet Aquarium, at Cheshire Oaks.

He moved into journalism with the Chester Chronicle and rose to be editor of the Flintshire Chronicle before his retirement and in recent years has worked for North Wales-based public relations company Ceidiog Communication as well as representing Gwernymynydd as an active and committed Flintshire County Councillor.

He was also a passionate football fan, first with his native Chester and latterly as a season ticketholder at Premier League Aston Villa, a keen motorcyclist and photographer.

Ceidiog Hughes, the managing director of Ceidiog Communication with whom Kevin worked as a freelance for many years, said: “Every member of the team is heartbroken and our love and thoughts are with his beloved family at this extremely difficult time.

“Kevin was an unforgettable larger than life character who was loved by all who had the good fortune to meet him and call him a friend.

“As well as being totally professional and a shrewd operator in relation to work matters, Kevin was also full of mischievous fun and one of the kindest, most generous people I know.

“Kevin was equally popular with all our clients and they too are devastated by his loss. We will all miss him terribly

“He is a huge loss to his family and the community in Gwernymynydd which he served with great verve and distinction as their local county councillor.

“While fighting for his life in critical care, Kevin was determined to get out the message about the dangers posed by this terrible virus and I hope that people take heed and behave responsibly so we suppress it until the rollout of the vaccine is completed.”

Arfon Jones, the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “I would like to send my sincere condolences to Kevin’s family.

“As two ex-police officers we had a great deal in common, as well as our interest in local government politics and football.

“I always used to think of Kevin when Aston Villa was mentioned and he offered to take me to a match many times.

“It’s fair to say we were on the same page, neither of us suffered fools gladly with the same ability to be outspoken at times.”

Mario Kreft MBE, the proprietor of the Pendine Park care organisation, also thought very highly of Kevin.

He said: “Kevin was a big character with a big heart who was interested in people and could get on with anyone.

“I know from sponsoring Llangollen Eisteddfod he was particularly adept at interviewing some big stars, including the likes of Francis Rossi from Status Quo, Burt Bacharach, Joseph Calleja and Rolando Villazon who were all charmed by him

“I remember when I mentioned we are taking some football programmes to an orphanage in Africa and he offered to chip in with a few. He turned up with a whole box of Aston Villa programmes and some brand new Villa shirts. That was just an example of how thoughtful and kind he was. Nothing was too much trouble for him.”

His predecessor as Flintshire County Councillor for Gwernymynydd and Nercwys was Nancy Matthews who served from 2004 until she stepped down in 2016 and she said: “There was nothing half-hearted about Kevin. If he took a job on he did it completely and properly and he has been a fantastic county councillor for us.”