Wales politics

Hundreds attend Plaid Cymru AM Steffan Lewis' funeral

The hearse
Image caption Steffan Lewis died two weeks ago after being diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer

Hundreds of people, including senior politicians from across the political spectrum, attended the funeral of Plaid Cymru AM Steffan Lewis on Friday.

In a eulogy party leader Adam Price said Mr Lewis' life was a "gift to the nation".

He said Mr Lewis would take his place alongside the heroes of Wales.

Mr Lewis died two weeks ago at the age of 34, after being diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer in late 2017.

He is survived by his wife Shona and his son Celyn.

Family and friends of Mr Lewis were joined at the Welsh Church St Luke's, Abercarn by Plaid Cymru AMs and MPs, First Minister Mark Drakeford, Conservative group leader Paul Davies and others from Labour and the Tories.

With the church full, a crowd of mourners gathered outside to listen to the service, led by Reverend Aled Edwards.

Image caption Mr Lewis is survived by his wife Shona and his son Celyn

Mr Price said the young public figure had "a large heart and a huge intellect", and was "courageously honest".

"Steffan found salvation in surrendering himself to Wales," he said.

"His life, to his last, was a gift, outright, to the nation."

The party leader said there was a "great sense of urgency" about Mr Lewis.

"Not for him the languid language of independence as a long term goal - he wanted to get there while he was still yet young," he said.

"He would not want us to despair in this, our land of living," he said.

"Every morning, when we wake, let's wake for him."

Image caption The crowd of mourners extended outside the church in Abercarn

Mr Lewis' predecessor as AM for South Wales East, Jocelyn Davies, told the service: "He was serious… but he was really, really funny".

"He had his anxieties," she said. "He confided in me that he was worried that he would not be taken seriously as an assembly member because of his age.

"His fears were completely unfounded. He was, after all, the star of the show."

Mr Lewis' "openness" about his experience with cancer was "extraordinary", she said.

"It was a noble, selfless endeavour to tell his story in order to help others," she said.

'Nation builder'

Aled Edwards called Mr Lewis a "nation builder". He told mourners Mr Lewis's "pioneering" work on the Continuity Bill - a measure designed to enshrine EU law in Welsh law which was briefly adopted by the Welsh Government - was "Steff at his best" and saw him become a "statesman".

Mr Price read a tribute from the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who met Mr Lewis when he supported former leader Leanne Wood at TV debates.

Image copyright Plaid Cymru
Image caption Steffan Lewis addressing the 1997 Plaid Cymru conference in Aberystwyth

"I could see then what a keen mind he had and what a compassionate individual he was," Ms Sturgeon said, adding: "Shona and Celyn can be enormously proud of what Steffan achieved."

Speaking after the service, Elin Jones, presiding officer of the National Assembly for Wales, said family, friends and politicians had gathered "to say goodbye to Steffan, to thank him for everything he achieved in his short political life and to pledge to him we will think of him when we work harder every day for the future of his country".

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