A FAMILY have paid tribute to a committed fundraiser who served as president of Rotary clubs on more than one occasion and received an OBE from the Queen.

Robert Merfyn Hughes, known as Bob, died on August 20 at Glan Clwyd Hospital. He was aged 79.

Bob, who was married to June and was father to Sally, Jonathan and Marc, was an active member of Prestatyn Rotary Club [since transferring from St Asaph Rotary in 1999]. He was president of the club in 2009 and 2014 and chaired several committees.

He was described as someone who was always keen to raise funds to help others and he played an “instrumental” part in organising a public collection following the Haiti earthquake in 2010.

Born in 1942, Bob was a native of Denbigh. He was born into a Welsh Methodist family where Welsh was the predominant language and started speaking English when he went to school. Chapel was at the centre of family activities and played an important part in his early life.

The family moved to Rhyl in the late 1950’s where Bob worked for his father. But cars (the bigger the better) were a major attraction and he enjoyed 20 years in the motor trade including at Auto Palace in Rhyl, before deciding to change his career.

He spent time studying at Durham University Business School and Warwick Business School and was accepted as an Associate Member of the Institute of Financial Accountants in 1987.

A spokesperson from Prestatyn Rotary Club said: “Mr Hughes joined Clwyd County Council on Rural Regeneration as Deputy Managing Executive of Clwydfro Enterprise Agency before moving to the Welsh Development Agency (WDA) and their International Team. He successfully carried out his role as Inward Investment Manager to attract overseas companies to Wales. He often said that working for Wales was the best job ever and one that gave him a lot of satisfaction.

"The Japanese were particularly responsive and Bob visited Japan on several occasions making many long-term friends before his retirement.

"His success in fully understanding the culture and etiquette of the Japanese business ethic has been applauded on many occasions and was referred to by Sir Graham Fry, British Ambassador to Japan, as ‘contributing greatly to attracting two billion pounds investment into the region over 20 years’.

"He forged long lasting and trusting relationships at very senior level with Toyota, Sharp, Brother, Hoya Lens, Koike Rubber, Toyo Seal, Tokai Rika, Hayakawa and Toyota Tsusho.”

In 2012, Bob received an OBE for public services which he received from the Queen.

During his life, he was involved in many organisations.

He was an active member of the Model Engineering Societies in Llandudno and Mold. He was also a founder member of St Asaph Rotary Club, becoming president in 1986.

The spokesperson added: “His role as Master at Arms for both clubs is legendary, bolstering the coffers by the fines that he levied on members for their indiscretions.

"He was instrumental in quickly organising Rotarians for a public collection on Parc Prestatyn retail park following the Haiti earthquake in 2010, and was particularly supportive of the Rotary Aquabox project.

"Bob was awarded Rotary’s highest honour, a Paul Harris Fellowship.”

Railways had always been a part of Bob’s life from the real thing to building model railways. Other “big boys toys” included a Swedish Army jeep and a fire engine that he used to tow the Rotary Christmas float.

Harold Jones, of North Wales Model Engineering Society, who knew Bob for more than 30 years, said: “From my very first visit to the society, Bob, who was chairman, made me welcome. We always spoke to each other in Welsh. He was a gifted public speaker and he used this talent to benefit our society in many different ways.

"During the last number of years, he became a constructor of railway wagons.

"Bob could be seen steaming around the track pulling a number of these wagons behind him.

"He will be sadly missed at both our society and at Mold MES.”

Bob and June lived in Prestatyn throughout their 35 years of happy marriage.

June said: “He was very kind and thoughtful and was so organised in both his work and home life. If a job needed doing, Bob would set an action plan and it would be done properly.

“Our feet hardly touched the ground through so many years of happiness, cruising and travelling the world together.

“We were a good team, and in 2009 formed a double act as President’s of the Prestatyn Rotary and Inner Wheel Clubs.

“I was very touched on the day of Bob’s funeral, hearing that the flags were half mast at the Deeside Toyota plant, and as we drove through the St Asaph Business Park, a senior manager at TRB (a subsidiary of Tokai Rika) stood outside the factory and bowed in respect as Bob’s coffin went past.”

Bob died after a short illness.

As well as his wife and children, he leaves behind five grandchildren and one great granddaughter. .

A funeral service for Bob took place at Denbighshire Memorial Park and Crematorium on Tuesday, September 7.

Jean Smith, Prestatyn Rotary President, said: “Bob has been a valued and active member of Prestatyn Rotary Club. He chaired several committees, and was always keen to raise funds to help others.

"His last project was to organise fund raising and purchase 10 defibrillators which are now situated in Prestatyn’s Retail Park, High Street and in Meliden.

"He was a regular participant on our Zoom meetings during the pandemic. He was always ready to offer me support and advice.”

The Prestatyn and Rhyl Community First Responder Team described Bob as “A hero who will be so very sadly missed.”