TRIBUTES have been paid to the master of the barber's chat who opened Shotton's first barbershop.

Keith Darbey opened his first barbershop in 1968 and had since formed friendships with generations of people who sat in his chair.

Keith, of Connah's Quay, was also known for his commitment to sport, organising and playing for several five-a-side football teams as well as being a regular on the badminton court at Deeside Leisure Centre.

Originally from Bagillt and attending Flint High School, Keith became a barber and opened his first shop in Shotton at a time when the town was bustling in part due to the then thriving steelworks.

He would go on to open Headmasters barbershops in Connah's Quay and Queensferry, the latter which is now run by his son Stuart.

He met his wife Elizabeth of 53 years when they were both 17. They have three sons - Andrew, Stuart and Iain. Keith had two grandchildren, Rhys and Cerys, the children of Stuart and his wife Carol.

Mrs Darbey said the family have been overwhelmed with the messages of support after Keith passed away aged 73 at the Countess of Chester Hospital on Saturday.

She said: "He opened the first barbers in Shotton in 1968, about six years after he left school. He started in Shotton then to Queensferry and Connah's Quay.

"He always remembered things about people, about who there father or brother was, and mostly to do about football. They call it barber's chat, it's part of the barber's banter to remember those bits and pieces of information like where someone went on holiday last year. And to pass on that information too, he was a good one to ask if you wanted a good hotel."

Keith Darbey.

Keith Darbey.

Keith Darbey

Keith retired from the barbershop in 2016.

Elizabeth added that Keith had always been dedicated to sport until problems with his heart and a stroke slowed him down.

She added: "He was a team player. Keith loved the camaraderie of the game and the camaraderie the pub after. I said years ago that he kept the Boathouse open, because whatever leisure centre they had been playing in it would be back to the Boathouse after.

"If you went in a pub and there was a crowd of people having a laugh you would know Keith would be in the middle of it.

"He was always involved in five-a-side football teams at the leisure centre, it would be twice sometimes three times a week. It was a a very important part of his life for a good few years, and it kept him fit and healthy until the last few years."

"He went on to the badminton when he was a bit old for the football and wasn't running fast enough.

Eldest son Andrew, who works for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, was inspired to become a badminton coach by his Keith's love of the sport.

He said: "I've had over 1,000 messages from people with memories of him from his days as the first barber in Shotton, plus his football and badminton days.

"I only have fond memories of him and know he was well-loved by everyone who knew him."

Keith's funeral will be held at Flintshire Crematorium in Northop at a date to be fixed.