LOVING tributes have been paid to a ‘strong’ and inspirational family man who will be a ‘sorely missed’ part of the community.

John Hodge, of Ruabon, died at the age of 77 and will be sadly missed by all those that knew him.

John was a loving father to Joanne, Paula and Richard and happily married to Helen since 1968.

Son Richard said his dad, the eldest of four brothers and son to Jack and Ellen, was born in Liverpool and loved the music scene, regularly attending lunch time gigs at the Cavern.

He added: “His record collection was his pride and joy and was well played throughout his life. He had a large group of friends who he kept in touch with his whole life.

“Growing up in Liverpool he met the love of his life Helen who was a nurse, a few years later work took them to South Wales, then Manchester, they finally settled in Ruabon.

“Disaster struck in 1975 when Joanne drowned in a terrible accident at the age of seven years. This devastated the family but John was a strong man and carried the family through their grief.

“Life carried on and his friends and family were there to support them.

“John learned to play golf and played regularly, he was a family man through and through and was devoted to his kids and wife.

“He called Helen "boss" but really he was. During dinner times he'd constantly test his kids on capital cities, geography and history facts.

“He loved his family holidays and once the kids were grown up, him and Helen made the most of their freedom and travelled all over the world. He was known for his suntan and even in the winter was brown as a berry.”

John, who worked for North Wales Newspapers( former owners of the Leader) from 1973 until his retirement in 2008, enjoyed Friday nights at the pub with friends for over 40-years.

Previously frequenting the Wynnstay Arms, John added Saturdays and Sundays to his drinking regime and was holding up the bar at the Bridge End Inn spending his well-earned retirement funds.

Son Richard fondly remembered: “He loved Sundays with the family. Off to the pub for 2pm "be back for 3:30, dinners ready for 4 o'clock" Mum would shout. Three pints later and off we'd toddle back home.

“The roast wouldn't be ready but the gin and tonics would be made whilst Mum finished cooking. Then we'd sit down and eat and drink for the rest of the night.

“He loved being a Dan Dan to William, Paula and Stuart's son. William couldn't say Grandad and Dan Dan was the closest thing he could say, and it stuck ever since.

“More devastating news was to follow when Paula was diagnosed with Cancer. She fought it bravely but in the end it took her life in 2018.

“Dad had Cancer for 12 years and fought it like a trooper. He never wanted to leave Mum as he knew she'd be useless without him. He went for treatment at the hospital and unfortunately caught Covid.

“He did say, "if I ever get Covid, it'll kill me". He was right again.

“He'll be a sorely missed part of the community, the family and his large group of friends that he has accumulated over the last 77 years.”

Due to current Welsh COVID restrictions, a private funeral service will take place on July 29 at Pentrebycham Crematorium and then the Bridge End Inn, Ruabon.

Donations will be made to the Shooting Star Cancer Support.

More information and to donate, visit https://john-hodge.muchloved.com/

Former news editor at North Wales Newspapers, Steve Rogers, worked with John for over 20 years.

He said: "He was always a man who wasn't afraid to speak his mind. He was a strong character and a bit of a workaholic who never shied away from the long hours.

"John switched from a printer to sub-editing when the company moved to on-screen and he managed to make a success in what was a difficult change in career but he managed to pull it off."