TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular bus driver who died in his sleep.

The parents of father-of-four Mark Leighton Egerton, 44, of Bryn Clyd, Leeswood, have spoken of their shock and devastation after the loss of their son on New Year’s Day.

Mr Egerton, who worked on routes in Mold, Queensferry and Chester for Arriva Wales, was also a grandfather of three.

His mother Barbara, 66, of Leeswood, said: “We loved him so much and we were very close. This is a huge shock because he wasn’t ill. It seems that he died in his sleep. We are still in shock. We can’t sleep at the moment.

“Mark was very popular. He would help anybody. If anyone in the village had a technical problem he would go out of his way to help them.”

Mr Egerton, who was described as a good singer and hosted karaoke nights, had previously worked at Leeswood Sports and Social Club where he was described as “the life and soul of the party”.

The former pupil at Castell Alun in Hope, is survived by his four children Daniel, 23, Damian, 22, David, 21 and 19-year-old Kim and his three grandchildren.

His father James, 71, said: “The kids meant the world to him. They loved him so much, they are devastated. Me and Mark shared a lot of interests. I went everywhere with him.

“A little bit of me has gone with him.”

After undergoing a minor operation under general anaesthetic at Wrexham Maelor Hospital Mr Egerton had been recovering and his parents said there was no warning of any illness.

He had recently spent a family Christmas with his relatives.

Family friend of 30 years and community councillor Ken Richardson, said Mr Egerton was popular and bubbly and was well-known in Leeswood for helping friends and neighbours.

He said: “He was the life and soul of the party. There was never a dull moment. He had lots of friends. He was very popular. You could not fall out with him and everyone knew him.

“He liked making and flying model airplanes.”

A spokesman for Arriva said: “We were shocked and hugely saddened to hear that Mark had passed away. Mark had worked in the bus industry for over 20 years and was an extremely well-liked and professional driver, who was always full of ideas to improve the business.

“He will be sadly missed by all his Arriva colleagues and our thoughts are with all his friends and family at this sad time.”

North East Wales deputy coroner John Gittins said he was still awaiting the results of the post mortem and he had not yet opened an inquest into the death.

The funeral, followed by a burial, is to be held at Pontblyddyn Church, on Wednesday, January 12 at 11am with family flowers only and donations to the church.