It is with great sadness that we have been asked by the family of Steffan Lewis AM to confirm that our dear friend and colleague passed away quietly today, in Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr in Ystrad Mynach.
Steffan, 34, loving husband of Shona, father to Celyn who is three, son and stepson to Gail and Neil and brother to Nia, Sian and Dylan, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in December 2017.
Steffan's family have asked us to share their tribute to him:
“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. "
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."
Adam 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. 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 life-affirming 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.”