A former Watford Conservative MP who represented the constituency for 18 years has been praised as “a great role model”.

Tristan Garel-Jones, a former Watford MP between 1979 and 1997, died aged 79 on Monday (March 23).

Lord Garel-Jones took Watford in Margaret Thatcher’s first landslide victory in 1979.

During his time as MP, Lord Garel-Jones became well known in the Muslim community after he supported the construction of Watford’s first mosque, the North Watford Jamia Mosque.

He was born in Gorseinon, South Wales, and moved to Spain as a child where his parents ran successful English language schools.

He was later taught at King’s School in Canterbury.

He worked as merchant banker, and before serving as Watford MP, contested the Caernafron constituency in Wales, in 1974.

Even though he had stood by Thatcher as deputy chief whip, he later voted against her.

But Lord Garel-Jones said that despite her steely reputation, he always found Lady Thatcher “kind, courteous and considerate”.

He said he did not have frequent dealings with Lady Thatcher during her terms as Prime Minister, but when he did he found her to be a pleasant character.

He was made a life peer after he stood down from the parliamentary seat.

Current Watford MP Dean Russell said: “I am deeply saddened by the news of Tristan Garel-Jones' passing.

“He was a truly great man and a role model for any Member of Parliament – caring, passionate and immensely hardworking.

“He truly cared for Watford and even after all these years was still actively involved in our local association as president and as part of many other local organisations.

“My thoughts are with Tristan’s family at this difficult time.”

Watford Conservative Association chairman Matthew Cawthorne said: “On behalf of Watford Conservative Association, I would like to extend deep sympathy to Lord Garel-Jones’ family, and great appreciation for his long and distinguished service to our town.

“As president, he brought stability to our association with a twinkle in his eye. We shall miss him greatly.”

Lord Garel-Jones died in Spain with his wife Catalina by his side.

He is also survived by his four sons and one daughter.