TRIBUTES have been paid to a former Flintshire Councillor who has been described as a 'real leader'.

Tony Sharps, of Northop Hall, passed away peacefully on Friday, May 5 at the age of 80.

Mr Sharps stood as an independent councillor in Flintshire for almost 50 years and was also former leader and mayor of Delyn Borough Council.

Mr Sharps, who stepped down from local politics last year, was widely known for not being afraid to voice his opinion.

Born on October 2, 1942 in Rhydymwyn to Edna and Leonard, Mr Sharps is survived by his loving wife of over 55 years, Gene and two brothers, Joe and Peter. 

Attending school in Saltney and Mold, Mr Sharps went on to become head boy and captain of the football team, showing indications from a young age of his leadership qualities. 

His eldest son, Len Sharps led tributes to his 'leader' father who spoke of his steel determination to make a difference and leave a lasting legacy, with the people he served very much at the heart of everything he did.

Len said: "We as a family got swept along with the whole council thing. It had its moments, its excitement, its rewards, but my dad was a real leader. 

"With almost 50 years in local politics he started off as a local councillor looking after local issues and then through his success and people getting to know him and trust him, he became leader and mayor of Delyn Borough Council, as it was at the time.

"In the 80's and 90's these are the times I personally remember of my dad making a real difference."

"My dad had this steel determination about him. I would describe it as ruthless in his approach to making a difference in the community. He wouldn't take any nonsense."

Len recalled times when family Sunday lunches would be interrupted by a knock at the door from some members of the community seeking Tony's help - and he was all too happy to oblige. 

He added: "He was a man of the community. A lot of the messages I've had, and all the well wishes are to say thank you for everything you did for us and for the village.

"He was a visionary in a way. He took no prisoners, he said things that perhaps others wouldn't say, for the greater good of the community.

"He installed a hard-work ethic into us as kids. He was worshiped by me and my brother, he's got three grandchildren, and they all adored him too.

"He will be missed."

Tony was also very passionate about charity, particularly his work to help the former Ysgol Delyn Special School in Mold and the Northop Silver Band which were very close to his heart.

Ken Skates, MS for Clwyd South, who had previously worked closely with Tony, said: "Tony was a big character and major influence on local government for many, many years.

"He’ll be sadly missed by family, friends and the people he served across the community."

Fellow councillor for the Northop ward and friend for almost 50 years Cllr Marion Bateman said she is 'devastated' at Tony's passing, but admitted she felt 'privileged' to have called him a friend. 

"We're so devasted at his loss. I can't believe he's gone really. It's been a privilege to have been a friend for almost 50 years. He was a big big part of our lives.

"Politics was not involved in our friendship initially. When my husband and I both became councillors, we went with Tony and his independent group.

"To listen to that man in his theatre, let's call it, of the council, you will never see the likes of it again. He could stand up, make a speech off the cuff and everyone listened. 

"He wasn't afraid of anyone, whether it be an officer or the opposition, he gave his views and they were most of the time, the views of the people and that's what he was most concerned about."

Cllr Bateman went on to particularly praise Tony's efforts in bringing jobs back to Flintshire following the closure of Shotton Steelworks in the 1980's which saw excessive job losses leading to local devastation. 

She added: "He was determined to bring jobs back to the area - and he did. He went far and wide, battled with everyone to get jobs back to Delyn and Flintshire.

"He was controversial and forceful on occasion, but all he really cared about was this area and I'm privileged to have sat next to him."