A COMMUNITY is in mourning following the death of a 31-year-old youth worker.
Darren Roberts was co-ordinator for the alternative learning project at The Venture centre for children and young people in Garner Road, Caia Park, and secretary of The Venture Community Football Club.
Mr Roberts, who lived in Caerwys, Flintshire, died suddenly on Friday.
He had been involved in a two-vehicle accident on the A541 at Afon Wen on Thursday at 10.40am in which casualties were reported to have suffered minor injuries but were not taken to hospital.
Police were informed at 11.14pm on Friday that Mr Roberts had died suddenly and investigations are taking place to establish whether his death and the collision are linked.
Chief officer for The Venture, Cllr Malcolm King, said he had known Mr Roberts, whose nickname was Coco, for 25 years and described his death as like losing a son.
“We have had hundreds of people coming here to grieve and pay their respects. They have been leaving flowers and pinning notices on fences,” he said.
“I am missing him terribly and so are hundreds of other people. Coco was highly popular throughout the community. He grew up here, had massive knowledge of the area and cared deeply for the people.
“He was so dedicated to his work, highly efficient and full of ideas. Coco did so much for others. He continued to keep in contact with those he helped and they turned to him when they wanted advice.”
Cllr King said among his many achievements, Mr Roberts was involved with a wide range of football organisations serving the area.
“The Venture, Caia Park and the football fraternity is in mourning for a very special person. At present we don’t have details about funeral arrangements.
“At The Venture we will discuss how we will pay tribute.”
Cllr King added: “He loved his family and kept a special part of his life for them away from The Venture.”
A tribute page has been set up for Mr Roberts on Facebook.
Among the contributors, Shaun Edwards wrote: “Still such a shock. We're all going to miss you Coco. The Venture and The Venture Community FC wouldn't be what it is and will never be the same without you.
“All I can say is thank you and what a privilege it is to have known you.”
His partner of 13 years, Clare Ponton, said he was a devoted family man who adored the couple’s 10-year-old daughter Charley-Louise.
“He would do anything for her,” she said. “He would do anything for anybody.”
And she said Mr Roberts’ work as a youth worker had meant a huge amount to him.
“He absolutely loved it,” she said. “He went there all his life. He went himself as a boy and then he started working there when he was 16.”
Miss Ponton said the couple had met through friends as teenagers and lived together for the last 10 years in her home village of Caerwys.
But she said Caia Park was always the place he thought of a home.
“He loved it there,” she said. “And he loved the children there.
“He worked a lot and if he wasn’t working he’d be spending time with his family,” she said. “Or his football. I know he loved his football.”
Miss Ponton said her partner had made a “massive contribution” during his life but said it had still been a shock to see so many messages of condolence on Facebook.
“There were thousands of messages – saying lovely words about him,” she said. “It has helped.”