Steffan Lewis, the Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for South East Wales, has died from terminal bowel cancer aged just 34, his family has announced.
Mr Lewis, who was elected in May 2016, was diagnosed with the illness in late 2017 and has previously spoken frankly about living with cancer.
He leaves wife Shona and three-year-old son Celyn. Mr Lewis passed away today, Friday, January 11, at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr in Ystrad Mynach.
In a statement 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 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.”
Brought up in Crosskeys and Tredegar, Mr Lewis became Wales’ youngest AM when he was elected in 2016 to represent the South Wales East region, which covers Caerphilly County Borough.
He was the party’s spokesman on Brexit and co-authored the Welsh Government’s Brexit whitepaper.
Tributes have been paid to Mr Lewis from colleagues while flags have been lowered at the National Assembly in Cardiff Bay as a mark of respect.
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 & young son Celyn at this incredibly difficult time.
— Mark Drakeford (@fmwales) January 11, 2019
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.”
Islwyn AM Rhianon Passmore said: “Steffan was an energetic and principled politician who had so much more to give to Welsh public life.
“In the all too short time that Steffan was able to serve as an Assembly Member he demonstrated his ability and calm manner. Steffan used his considerable intellectual powers to make the case in the chamber of the Assembly for Wales’ rights to be respected following the Brexit negotiations.
“My heart goes out to the family and friends of Steffan at this incredibly difficult time.”