TRIBUTES have been paid to a Second World War heroine who helped the Allies overcome one of their biggest challenges.

Maude Violet Hughes died aged 94 on Wednesday, May 1.

As part of the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS) during the war, known colloquially as a 'Wren', Maude was instrumental in helping crack the Nazi's Enigma code when she was deployed with other codebreakers at just 18 in 1944 at Winston Churchill’s top secret intelligence and computer headquarters at Bletchley Park, near Milton Keynes.

In 2009, Maude's role in the operation earned her a medal from then Prime Minister Gordon Brown, as well as the freedom of Bletchley Park.

Rhyl Journal:

Maude Hughes with her medal in 2009. Picture: Phil Micheu

However, it was only many years later when a programme about Bletchley appeared on TV that she revealed to her family and friends her heroic involvement in the war effort, stating proudly that she had signed the official secrets act and that was that as far as she was concerned.

Maude's nephew George Owen said: "Maude was a very gentle soul who had a wry sense of humour which endeared her to all who knew her.

"It was such a shock for the family - it was almost uncharacteristic in a way - but she really was a quiet soul who just got on with it and did her duty.

"She will be missed."

Born in Liverpool on March 3, 1925, Maude's father Nicholas Spencer had been a music hall comedian using the stage name Will Agar and along with mum Myrtle, brother John and sisters Winnie and Ann the young family moved between Devon and London before back to her hometown.

In 1939 she left school and went to work at Police Station in Dale Street, near the centre of Liverpool, which sustained very heavy bombing during the Liverpool blitz.

Undaunted, Maude was soon busily employed in the police security offices until, in 1944, she volunteered for the WRNS.

Once the war ended Maude returned to civilian life and later married Alfred Noel Hughes, a miner at Point of Ayr Colliery.

They lived at various times in Ffynnongroew, Prestatyn and Rhyl. For a time they ran a social club in Prestatyn and later sold ice cream from a mobile van with Maudies Ices emblazoned on the side.

Maude and Noel were keen ballroom dancers and were involved in local clubs. They also travelled abroad as far as New Zealand where Maude was able to be meet up with a life-time pen-pal.

Maude had spent her latter years at her Maes Emlyn flat and was a regular at Hafan Deg Community Centre, Grange Road, where she enjoyed meeting friends and enjoyed many trips to the theatre and excursions, including one to Bletchley Park, as well as visits to the Botanical Gardens Annual Fun Day.

Maude's funeral will take place at St Asaph Crematorium on Friday, May 17 at 11am where there will be a Naval presence of officers and cadets and the coffin will be draped with the White Ensign. The Mayor of Rhyl will also attend.