TRIBUTES have been paid to a former Leader journalist and public relations consultant who has died, aged 71, after a long illness.

Arfon Edwards, from Pantymwyn, also worked as a staff reporter for Wales’ two national newspapers, the Daily Post and the Western Mail before launching his own news agency, Dee News, based at Mold, in the late 1970s, covering a large area of north-east Wales for local and national press and broadcasting media.

He went on to form his own highly-successful public relations company, Quadrant. in the 1980s. It continued to operate from offices at nearby Nercwys until his retirement seven years ago, serving a wide-range of clients, including BHP, ICI and leading pharmaceutical companies such as GSK, and Norvatis.

Arfon left St Richad Gwyn school, Flint, in 1965 to become a trainee reporter in the Mold district office of the Chester Chronicle.

Former chief reporter Gordon Smith remembers: “One of his teachers came into the office and told me that Arfon had set his sights on becoming a reporter.

"He was very keen and soon showed a great news sense and a willingness to learn."

Many years, later, Arfon gave Gordon a part-time job at Quadrant Public Relations after his former boss retired after many years as head of press and communications at Shotton steelworks.

Gordon added: “We’ve been friends throughout all those years and even after we both retired we continued to meet on the bowling green or for lunch.”

Arfon’s fellow trainee at the Chronicle, former Daily Post district reporter Gareth Hughes, said: “They were very happy times at the Mold office and we gained invaluable experience. Arfon and I became very good friends,and I had the pleasure of being best man at his wedding.

"Although I remained as a newspaper journalist throughout my career, II always admired Arfon for taking the bold step into PR, and the business acumen he displayed in building up his Quadrant agency, which attracted several very high-profile clients.”

Another former colleague, retired Daily Post district reporter, Carl Butler, from Penyffordd, added: “In an age when so many journalists depend on plundering the murky depths of social media for news, Arfon was the kind of district reporter who was distinctly 'old school.' He was probably the most fiercely competitive journalist I ever worked with.”

Veteran BBC journalist John Shone who worked with Arfon over more than 40 years, said: “When, we first met, Arfon was ‘the ‘opposition’ on the Chronicle while I worked for the rival Flintshire Leader just around the corner.

"The competition was fierce, but we quickly became firm friends and after several years he agreed to join the Leader before going on to work for the Western Mail in Cardiff before returning north as a district reporter on the Daily Post. He was one of my oldest friends and a great pro’."