POP­U­LAR AS­SEM­BLY MEM­BER DIES AT 34

South Wales Echo - - Front Page - MARTIN SHIPTON Chief Re­porter [email protected]­line.co.uk

PLAID Cymru AM St­ef­fan Lewis, re­garded as one of the bright­est Welsh politi­cians of his gen­er­a­tion, has died of can­cer at the age of 34.

He leaves his wife Shona and his three-year-old son Ce­lyn.

Mr Lewis, who had rep­re­sented South Wales East since 2016, passed away qui­etly at Ys­byty Ystrad Fawr in Ystrad Mynach.

A state­ment is­sued by Plaid on be­half of his fam­ily said: “To lose St­eff is the great­est pos­si­ble blow to our fam­ily and we know that there are peo­ple through­out Wales who share our sense of loss. St­eff in­spired us ev­ery day. He was our rock, he was our an­chor and most cer­tainly, our hero. Above all St­ef­fan was a lov­ing hus­band, fa­ther, son and brother.

“St­eff fought this dis­ease with the same courage and de­ter­mi­na­tion that he ap­plied to his pol­i­tics, and even when he was in great pain and dis­com­fort, he con­tin­ued to serve the peo­ple he so dearly loved to rep­re­sent. We will en­sure that his legacy will live on for­ever – in our com­mu­nity, in our hearts and above all through his son, the lit­tle boy he adored, Ce­lyn. Wales will not for­get his con­tri­bu­tion and his de­ter­mi­na­tion to make a dif­fer­ence to peo­ple’s lives.

“We would like to thank all those in the NHS who cared for St­ef­fan dur­ing his ill­ness, and in par­tic­u­lar the staff of Ystrad Fawr Hos­pi­tal and his on­col­o­gist, Dr Hi­lary Wil­liams from Velin­dre Can­cer Cen­tre.”

Pay­ing trib­ute to his friend and col­league, Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said: “My heart­felt con­do­lences go out to St­ef­fan’s fam­ily at this tragic time. St­ef­fan was beloved by his friends in Plaid Cymru and we are in a state of shock and grief at los­ing our very bright­est star. He will be re­mem­bered as a politi­cian of rare tal­ent who achieved an in­cred­i­ble amount dur­ing his time in elected of­fice, which has been cut short in such har­row­ing cir­cum­stances.

“His pow­ers of rea­son­ing and in­tel­lect were matched only by his ca­pac­ity for com­pas­sion – even while suf­fer­ing ill­ness, St­ef­fan per­sisted in pri­ori­tis­ing the wel­fare of other peo­ple by speak­ing openly about his dif­fi­cult ex­pe­ri­ences while all the time con­tin­u­ing to work on be­half of his na­tion and con­stituents.

“I can­not be­gin to ex­press our sense of loss and how much we will miss hav­ing St­ef­fan in our lives. His legacy will for­ever be re­mem­bered in the his­tory of Plaid Cymru and the Welsh na­tion.”

Mr Price added: “St­ef­fan first ad­dressed a Plaid Cymru con­fer­ence at the age of 14. It was clear at that point that this was some­body that was go­ing to have a big im­pact on the life of the na­tion. From that mo­ment, St­ef­fan de­voted his life to his dream of a free and in­de­pen­dent Wales. In our last con­ver­sa­tion this week, he shared with me his con­fi­dence that his dream would be re­alised and urged us to do all that we can to bring the day closer.

“St­ef­fan ded­i­cated his work­ing life to the task of help­ing oth­ers and was able to do so with ex­cep­tional abil­ity due to his as­ton­ish­ing breadth of tal­ents. From cam­paign­ing on be­half of for­mer min­ers’ pen­sion rights to sav­ing health ser­vices in his re­gion, ev­ery­body knew that St­ef­fan was a for­mi­da­ble rep­re­sen­ta­tive to have on their side who would never let them down. In terms of his port­fo­lio re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, he suc­ceeded in di­rect­ing Welsh Gov­ern­ment pol­icy on Brexit on no less than three oc­ca­sions.

“Firstly, he co-au­thored the Welsh Gov­ern­ment Brexit White Paper Se­cur­ing Wales’ Fu­ture. He then in­tro­duced ground-break­ing con­ti­nu­ity leg­is­la­tion to pre­vent the West­min­ster power-grab which even­tu­ally led to the In­ter-gov­ern­men­tal Agree­ment. And only last month he suc­ceeded in per­suad­ing the Welsh Gov­ern­ment to sup­port his amend­ment to their own Brexit mo­tion.

“I can’t think of any other politi­cian in any par­lia­ment who suc­ceeded in di­rect­ing gov­ern­ment pol­icy on the great is­sue of the day to such an ex­tent from the op­po­si­tion benches. That only be­gins to re­flect the great­ness of his char­ac­ter.

“He was pop­u­lar among all sec­tions of so­ci­ety and across party lines, a fact that was un­der­lined when Car­wyn Jones was asked to name the po­lit­i­cal op­po­nent he most re­spected in an in­ter­view around the time he left his post as First Min­is­ter. His an­swer: ‘St­ef­fan Lewis’.

“I am told that hun­dreds of peo­ple con­tacted St­ef­fan af­ter watch­ing, hear­ing or read­ing one of his in­ter­views in which he dis­cussed the men­tal and emo­tional chal­lenge of deal­ing with a se­ri­ous ill­ness.

“Even though it was ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for him to talk about his ill­ness while go­ing through im­mense per­sonal hard­ship, he was adamant that he had a duty to use his ex­pe­ri­ence for the ben­e­fit of oth­ers.

“He touched the lives of so many peo­ple in such a pos­i­tive and lifeaf­firm­ing way. That will guar­an­tee both his po­lit­i­cal and per­sonal legacy. They will en­dure in the mem­ory of the na­tion and be­yond for count­less years to come.”

First Min­is­ter Mark Drake­ford said: “I would like to ex­press my own deep and per­sonal sor­row at the loss of St­ef­fan Lewis AM, one of the most de­cent and able politi­cians of his gen­er­a­tion. My thoughts and sym­pa­thies are with his wife Shona and young son Ce­lyn at this in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult time.”

Pre­sid­ing Of­fi­cer Elin Jones said: “I am deeply sad­dened to hear of the death of my friend and col­league St­ef­fan Lewis. St­ef­fan showed great ded­i­ca­tion and courage in con­tin­u­ing to serve the peo­ple of South Wales East through­out his dif­fi­cult ill­ness.

“His de­ter­mi­na­tion to serve and work hard to im­prove the lives of the peo­ple of Wales earned him re­spect from across the po­lit­i­cal di­vide, within the Senedd and fur­ther afield. I can­not re­call an­other AM who was as proud as St­ef­fan to have been elected to his na­tional par­lia­ment. That his term of of­fice was cut so short is a tragic loss for us all. I shall miss his friend­ship and his pas­sion for Wales and his party.”

ROB BROWNE

Plaid Cymru AM St­ef­fan Lewis has died at the age of 34

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