TRIBUTES have been paid to a former Miss Wales who has died suddenly, aged 39.

Beauty queen Melanie Hughes, of Thomas Avenue, Ewloe, died on Sunday, leaving husband Rick, 49, step-daughter Taylor, 16, and son Kaden, three.

Mrs Hughes, originally of Holywell, took the title of Miss Wales in 1997 when she was Melanie Jones, and also competed in Miss Great Britain and other pageants.

Paying tribute, her devoted husband said he was “absolutely devastated”.

He said: “I’d always known Mel because we are both from Holywell – but it wasn’t until 10 years ago that we actually got together.

“I’d first seen her when I was playing football in Greenfield and she caught my eye. She was stunning.

“I still have her number saved on my phone under ‘Miss Wales’.

“But she actually asked me out over Facebook, although we’d known each other for years through mutual friends.

“We got married in Mauritius in June 2011, where her mum and family are from, and we’ve just got back from the holiday
of a lifetime in Disneyland Florida.

“She also leaves behind her beautiful mum Jotee and father Alan.”

Mr Hughes added: “Mel worked at Kingspan for 15 years and everyone there is devasted too. I’ve been told they have put the Kingspan flag at half-mast.

“Mel was so popular. I’ve been overwhelmed with tributes on social media.”

As well as modelling, Mr Hughes said his wife also featured in small parts in TV series like Coronation Street and Cold Feet.

When she was a teenager Mrs Hughes also trained as a kickboxer with former world and European champion Russ Williams from Caerwys, and they appeared together on a feature for ITV news while she was Miss Wales.

Paying tribute, Mr Williams said: “She was such a beautiful lady with great sense of humour.

“She was always great fun and a pleasure to meet.

“We had such a laugh filming it (the ITV feature) as she hadn’t trained for a good while and I remember her loud laugh when she missed the pad and kicked me in the groin.

“My thoughts are with her family and friends at this terrible sad time.”

Mrs Hughes’ husband Rick added: “She was bubbly, she had such a nice soul and she had time for everyone.

“I will miss her so much.”

John Gittings, coroner for North Wales East and Central, has been informed of the death.