THE girlfriend of an ex-soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq last night paid tribute to her “rock”, her “big gentle bear”, and her “Mr Perfect”.
Speaking for the first time of her loss, devastated Mim Bradshaw said David Hughes was the man she’d planned to spend the rest of her life with.
David, 31, from Caernarfon, died alongside two Iraqi colleagues when their armoured landrover was hit in the Al Hillah region south of Baghdad.
Speaking from his family home in Talysarn yesterday, 23-year-old nurse Mim said they were planning to spend the rest of their lives together. She said: “He was, and is, my Mr Perfect, every day he made my life so special with that smile. David would phone me every day, send me texts and arrange for flowers to be delivered. I love him.
He never thought this would happen to him. We were planning everything. He was working abroad to help save money to buy a house. He wanted to provide for everyone.
“David was going to work abroad maybe for another year and then was going to find another job. He didn’t care what. He used to say anything, postman, lorry driver, as long as it pays the mortgage. He was always happy, always smiling and joking.”
David spent more than 12 years in the Army but left in 2007. He worked for private security company G4S Secure Solutions in Afghanistan before transferring to the company’s Armorgroup business in Iraq.
David and his team were providing protective security to mentors serving under a US Government programme when the explosive device hit their landrover last Thursday.
Last week his employers said he was a skilled operator with a wealth of experience in the field, and paid tribute to a “very professional, dedicated, fit and decent” worker
Holding Mim’s hand yesterday David’s mum Catherine said: “I’m proud of my son and honoured to have had such a great boy. He was a rock for all our family. David’s left a big hole in our lives, he’s still here with us, but our lives will never be the same.
“David looked after us all but always looked after his sister Rachel who has been suffering ill-health for the past 10 years.
“He’d do his paper round and then come back home and take his sister to school and then head off to school himself.”
David’s family are determined he’ll never be forgotten. The ex-serviceman’s brother Andrew, 37, revealed: “It will be David’s birthday on August 5 and my wife Karon and I are expecting our first child on that day. We know it will be a boy and we are going to name him David Sean in his honour. We’ll never forget him.”
David also has a niece, Abigail, daughter of his step-brother Kevin’s daughter. And he’d agreed to be godfather to Ciron, son of his brother Darren and sister-in-law Michelle’s son.
His dad Gwilym said: “David was a very rare breed, a man who made friends very easily and kept them. He is a very decent man.
“There were two sides to his personality. He was the ultimate professional soldier when he was on duty and the ultimate leg-puller at all other times.”
The 72-year-old retired council worker said David had always wanted to join the Army and had started in the cadets in Caernarfon.
“He went into the TA after leaving school and then one day came home and said he’d joined the Army. He’d worked in the library and at an abattoir but he’d never really settled.
“He joined up in January 1996 and the passing out parade was in Winchester. Since then he’s been everywhere on exercises and on operations. He was in the peacekeeping force in Bosnia and with Nato in Kosovo. He did three tours in Northern Ireland.
He thought a lot of his regiment, the 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, and they clearly thought a lot about him.
“We’ve been flooded with calls and messages of condolence. Many of his former colleagues are planning to come to his funeral.”
David’s elder brother Darren, 34, said: “He was a very proud Welshman and he was extremely proud to be from Caernarfon, he was a real Cofi Dre. He never forgot that wherever he was. It was a privilege to have a brother like him.”
He was the grandson of former Caernarfon town mayor Robert Charles Parry and a minute’s silence was held at the annual mayor making ceremony in Caernarfon last week as news of the tragedy filtered through.
Newly installed Caernarfon Mayor Hywel Roberts said: “This is an enormous tragedy for the family and our thoughts are with them.”
David’s body is being brought back to Caernarfon in the next few days and his family hope to hold a funeral service next week.
TRIBUTES from David’s former Army colleagues have flooded into social networking website Facebook, in memory of their friend known as “Chinny”.
One, from Marc Davies, said: “You will be sorely missed by everyone who knew you, and when all the boys eventually re-group wherever we end up, I expect you to have kept a seat for me.”
Another friend, Darren Thomas, said: “I can’t believe it. You were a top lad mate, who would always help others. You will be missed mate, only the good die young, RIP mate.”
And James Belton said: “Can’t believe you’ve gone mate, you were a sterling bloke and always kept people laughing. Truck on.”
Karl Rowland recalls his friend: “Will never forget basic training with him, one of the funniest mates I have ever known and whoever met Chinny would never forget him. He was a true legend and he will live on in our memories forever. Rest in peace Chinny, you’re a diamond.”
Iwan Roberts knew David from his days as a young cadet. He wrote: “I remember him as a tiny young lad when he joined the cadets. We used to call him George Jr (his brother was nicknamed George) and I recall he always had a cheeky smile on his face.
“Worked in the same unit in Northern Ireland 16 years later and good God had he grown! Dave loved his weight training and I would often see him pumping iron during his time off.
“At work he was the ultimate professional and I enjoyed having a good chinwag in Welsh with him, especially at the expense of our English colleagues.
“Rest easy Dave mate and I hope your family can take some comfort from knowing what a top bloke and how respected you were.”
Deian ‘Taff’ Roberts said simply: “Farewell my friend, my thoughts are with your family.”