THE family of a grandfather found dead in a Cwmbran canal yesterday paid tribute to “a gentle and sociable”


The body of retired security officer Michael James Phelps was found in the canal on September 15, just a fewdays after his 75th birthday. His family believe he drowned.

His twin brother, Alexander, spoke about his brother’s life and his involvement in the local church.

Mr Phelps said: “We were born in Blaina, but Mike moved to Croesycelliog and then Pontnewydd.

“He went to Llanyrafon secondary school, and worked as a security officer in Cwmbran for years.

“I live in Bradford-upon- Avon, but in the last couple of years we had seen a lot more of him.

“We would go on day trips to local historical sites. He was very knowledgeable about all the churches and castles in the Gwent area.

“He was a very, very gentle man, with a very nice sense of humour.

“He was very sociable, but church was his main interest.

“He was the verger at Holy Trinity in Pontnewydd, where he also rang the bells.”

Sister-in-law Molly Phelps said: “He loved getting out and about, we had been down just a few days before to celebrate their birthday. We had visited a local manor house. We usually speak to him on the telephone too, so we didn’t understand why he wasn’t answering the phone until we heard what had happened.

“Michael had a good sense of humour, and his own unique way of looking at the world.”

Mr Phelps had been married twice, and had one daughter, Mary, and three stepchildren.

His daughter died when his only granddaughter was young, and his second wife, Yvonne, died a couple of years ago.

Granddaughter Jessica Gunningham said: “He loved his dog Molly and he loved walking, even though he had glaucoma and his balance wasn’t the best. He would walk for miles.”

Pontnewydd councillor Stuart Ashley said: “I knew him well to talk to and it was a great shock when I heard. He was very much a part of the community through his work at the church.”

Mr Phelps’ funeral will be held next Thursday at Holy Trinity Church in Pontnewydd, Cwmbran.

Mr Phelps’ death is not being treated as suspicious.

An inquest into his death is due to be held, the Gwent Coroner’s Office said.