A FUNDRAISING page has been set up to help the children of a former St Asaph man who died aged 46.

Rhys Hughes, who emigrated from the City to New Zealand around twenty years ago, fell ill while out walking with his girlfriend Philippa near their home on Waiheke island last month.

On August 18, he was taken to a local hospital who then called a helicopter to take him to the general hospital. Unfortunately, bad weather meant that the flight could not be carried out and Mr Hughes died before take off.

The cause of his death was believed to have been a disintegrated heart valve.

The father-of-two had previously been a long time member of Holywell Swimming Club. He was the youngest son of Terry and Anne Hughes, who still live in St Asaph, and a brother to Denzil, Siobhan and Kirsty.

He had lived in New Zealand for many years with partner Philippa - who he described as his "rock" - and remained close to family and friends back home in North Wales.

The Justgiving page, set up by close family friend John Jones, is aiming to raise £5,000 to help Mr Hughes' two teenage children Arion, 16, and Kiva, 19, finish their college education.

"I've known Rhys' father Terry for many years, as he's taught four generations of children, including my own, to swim at Holywell swimming club," John said.

"It was the family's wish for any donations at his recent memorial to go to this cause. Some of his friends and others who could not attend have expressed a wish to donate to this worthy venture (the Justgiving page) so that Rhys' legacy may continue through his children.

"Rhys' death was a tragic one and anything we can do to help Philippa pick up the pieces would be greatly appreciated."

Paying tribute to Mr Hughes, Brian and June Taylor wrote: "We have known the family for many years via Holywell Swimming Club and are shocked to hear the sad news. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family."

Claire Davies added: "Always up to something. I remember Rhys hiding the swimming club trophy one year! He was an absolute star. Sending love to the rest of the family.

Mari and Craig, who also donated to the cause, wrote: "Such sad sad news. Thinking of Denzil and all the family. Rhys was such a character, a true free spirit. Wishing his children strength and courage."

Sharon Jones said: "Some people leave lasting memories and Rhys left plenty of them.

"Lots of laughs wherever he was and full of mischief. All of the family are in our thoughts."

More than £400 has been raised at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/john-jones-989-rhys