Page last updated at 09:12 GMT, Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Socialite Sir Dai Llewellyn dies

Sir Dai Llewellyn
Sir Dai Llewellyn, an Old Etonian, never hid his love of high living

Welsh socialite Sir Dai Llewellyn has died of bone cancer at the age of 62.

Friend Dragomir Devedlaka said Sir Dai's former wife and two daughters were at his bedside in a Kent hospital when he died on Tuesday night.

He stood in elections for the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), whose leader called him a "larger than life character who brought great joy".

He inherited the baronetcy of Bwllfa from his father, Olympic gold medal show jumper Sir Harry Llewellyn.

He was still young, he lived more in six months than the vast majority live in their lifetime
Friend Dragomir Devedlaka

Sir Dai, who was born in the south Wales valley town of Aberdare, stood for UKIP in the 2007 Welsh assembly election in Cardiff North, and his victorious Conservative opponent Jonathan Morgan said he was "incredibly saddened" by his death.

"Although we were political opponents in Cardiff North I shall never forget the unique brand of humour, spirit and energy he brought to the campaign," said Mr Morgan.

"Sir Dai lived life to the full and will be greatly missed. It is a pleasure to have known him."

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: "He was a larger than life character who brought great joy to both life and our party."

His brother is Roddy Llewellyn, who had a six-year affair with Princess Margaret.

Sir Dai had bought a house in Aberbeeg, Blaenau Gwent, but decided to leave Wales in 2003, blaming nationalism, xenophobia and vandalism for his decision.

He announced that he would never return to Wales after complaining about theft and damage at six former miners' cottages he owned in Llanhilleth, near Abertillery, as well as "bully-boy" tactics forcing children to learn Welsh.

Pleasures and downfalls

But at the time, people in the south Wales villages of Aberbeeg and nearby Llanhilleth said he would not be missed even though he spent most of his time in his other home in the Mayfair area of London.

In an interview in November, Sir Dai said he was "riddled" with cancer.

The bon viveur told the Daily Mail: "It's all down to the alcohol, it's all my fault. Oh what a joy, what a pleasure alcohol can bring you.

"It can be one of life's great pleasures, but it can also cause great downfalls."

He regarded sleeping as a waste of time
Friend Dragomir Devedlaka on Sir Dai

Businessman Mr Devedlaka said Sir Dai was transferred to the hospital for radiation treatment for bone cancer six weeks ago, having previously been at a Kent hospice.

Paying tribute to his friend of 30 years he said: "He was one of the best raconteurs in the world, if not the number one."

He said Sir Dai's daughters Olivia, 28, and Arabella, 25, and his former wife Vanessa Hubbard were at his bedside at the Edenbridge and District War Memorial Hospital.

The Old Etonian was open about his love of living the high life, which included consuming large amounts of alcohol, claiming to have drunk eight bottles of wine, a bottle of rum, a bottle of port and a bottle of vodka in one night.

"He was still young. He lived more in six months than the vast majority live in their lifetime," said Mr Devedlaka.

"He had no regrets whatsoever. The wonderful thing about Dai is that people associated him with the best restaurants and nightclubs, and the Learjets.

"But we used to go to greasy spoon cafes together, where you could get drunk for 5.

"He's the only person I've ever met who lived every second of every minute of every day. He regarded sleeping as a waste of time."

Funeral arrangements are expected to be confirmed later this week.

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