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Former Flintshire schoolboy James Sprake dies in snorkelling accident in Malaysia

THE devastated family of a talented teenager who died in a snorkelling accident have paid tribute to a much-loved son and brother.

James Sprake, 18, a former pupil of Ewloe Green Primary School, died on July 12 after drowning during a family holiday in idyllic Langkwai, Malaysia.

The Sprake family emigrated from Deeside to the Far East 10 years ago, but friends from Flintshire will be among many expected to attend his funeral in Hooton, Wirral, tomorrow (Friday).

James, who was fluent in Mandarin, had planned to return to the UK to study at university and had been considering moving to Manchester.

During his teenage years James found fame as the face of clothing brand Vans in Asia, appearing in shop window displays and on billboards across Korea and China.

This week his dad Chris, 49, said: “He had a very soft heart. He was so kind.”

Younger brother Alex, 16, said he remembered James having ‘the time of his life’ on holiday with friends in Texas last Christmas.

He added: “He was a typical hip teenager and very open-minded. He was a good brother – very, very protective.

“He had a very soft-hearted side and he had a very eventful life.”

James was born at the Countess of Chester Hospital in March 1992.

After living in Chester the family moved to Meadowside, Ewloe. James, Alex and youngest brother Ben, now 14, all attended Ewloe Green Primary School on Mold Road.

Chris and wife Debbie took their three boys to the Far East when James was seven, after Chris secured a job as director of operations at Courts Worldwide in Singapore.

The family later lived in Korea and, most recently, Shanghai.

Chris worked at a caravan site in Queensferry in his youth, and James’s great-grandad worked at the John Summers steel works in Shotton for 50 years.

James’s hobbies included skateboarding, music, art, deep sea diving and fishing. He was picked up by Vans after being spotted at a skateboarding event.

Chris added: “He was very creative with his photography and music. That’s one of the things he wanted to do in university.”

James’s funeral will be held at St Paul’s Church in Hooton tomorrow at 1.15pm.

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