A MOTHER has spoken of her pride at receiving a medal to mark the courage of her soldier son who died in the Falklands conflict in 1982.

Welsh Guardsman Neil Hughes, of Rhostyllen, was killed on June 8 of that year as British forces battled to regain the islands from Argentine invaders.

On Wednesday his 71-year-old mother, Patricia Hughes, was among a handful of relatives of servicemen presented with the Elizabeth Cross at a ceremony in Llandudno.

The new decoration, instituted only last year, is given to the next-of-kin of members of the armed forces killed in action or as a result of a terrorist attack after the Second World War.

Neil, who was the eldest son of Mrs Hughes and her late husband Raymond, was only 22 when the Sir Galahad landing ship carrying his battalion came under fire from Argentinian Skyhawk fighters as it was moored in Bluff Cove. Neil was among the 48 people, including 32 Welsh Guardsmen, killed or badly injured.

Mrs Hughes said: “The medal was presented to me during the ceremony at the Palace Hotel and I know that Neil would have been very proud to know about it.

“We were always very proud of him and how brave he was. I still remember the day we heard he had been killed – it was terrible. My husband never got over losing him until the day he died 12 years ago.

Mrs Hughes added: “Neil was very bright and a keen sportsman. He loved the Army and wanted to be a physical training instructor.”

Mrs Hughes, who was at the ceremony with her youngest son Ian, 41, and her 27-year-old granddaughter, Nicola, added: “I went out to the Falklands the year after Neil was killed and I remember how it looked – all slate just like Snowdonia.

“My husband always wanted to go out there as well but the doctors wouldn’t allow it because of his health.

“When he died we did arrange to have his ashes taken to the Falklands and scattered in Bluff Cove where the Sir Galahad was hit.”