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Plaid Cymru's Steffan Lewis dies aged 34 Welsh Plaid Cymru assembly member Steffan Lewis dies aged 34
(35 minutes later)
One of Wales' youngest assembly members has died at the age of 34.One of Wales' youngest assembly members has died at the age of 34.
Steffan Lewis, the Plaid Cymru AM for South Wales East, was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer in late 2017.Steffan Lewis, the Plaid Cymru AM for South Wales East, was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer in late 2017.
Elected as an AM for South Wales East in 2016, he had served as the party's spokesman on Brexit. Mr Lewis, who was brought up in Crosskeys and Tredegar in the Gwent valleys, leaves his wife Shona and his son, Celyn.
Mr Lewis, who was brought up in Crosskeys and Tredegar, leaves his wife Shona and his son, Celyn. "He was our rock, he was our anchor and most certainly, our hero," his family said. "He was our rock, he was our anchor and most certainly, our hero. To lose Steff is the greatest possible blow to our family," 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. Flags have been lowered at the National Assembly in Cardiff Bay as a mark of respect.
"Steff inspired us every day. Adam Price, Plaid Cymru leader, said his party was in a state of shock at losing its "brightest star", while first minister Mark Drakeford said he was one of the "most decent and able politicians of his generation".
"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." In a tribute, Mr Lewis' family said: "Steff inspired us every day,"
"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 know that there are people throughout Wales who share our sense of loss."
His family said they will ensure "his legacy will live on forever - in our community, in our hearts and above all through his son".His family said they will ensure "his legacy will live on forever - in our community, in our hearts and above all through his son".
"Wales will not forget his contribution and his determination to make a difference to people's lives," they added."Wales will not forget his contribution and his determination to make a difference to people's lives," they added.
The AM was elected to the Assembly in 2016, having previously served as former leader Leanne Wood's speech writer.
It was in his work on Brexit, in his capacity as the party's spokesman on the subject, where he had his biggest impact.
His proposal for an Act to enshrine EU rules into Welsh law was employed by the Welsh Government as a tactic in its negotiations with the UK government.
His illness did not stop him from making contributions to Senedd debates, and AMs from across the parties rallied around the Plaid Cymru politician after he was diagnosed - taking part in a charity walk organised by Mr Lewis' sister Nia.
Adam Price, Plaid Cymru leader, said Mr Lewis was beloved by his friends in Plaid Cymru.Adam Price, Plaid Cymru leader, said Mr Lewis was beloved by his friends in Plaid Cymru.
"We are in a state of shock and grief at losing our very brightest star," he said. "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," he said.
Wales' 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."Wales' 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."
Elin Jones, the assembly's presiding officer, said: "Such a sad loss of one of our youngest and our best. Elin Jones, the assembly's presiding officer and a Plaid Cymru AM, said: "Such a sad loss of one of our youngest and our best.
"Steffan Lewis made such an impact in the Senedd - with a caring heart, a charming smile and an intellect the size of Wales. When Steffan spoke, we all listened. We'll still listen Steffan.""Steffan Lewis made such an impact in the Senedd - with a caring heart, a charming smile and an intellect the size of Wales. When Steffan spoke, we all listened. We'll still listen Steffan."
After the announcement was made tributes flooded in from across the Welsh Assembly.
Welsh Conservative leader Paul Davies said: "His courage and his bravery throughout his illness will be an example to us all."
Rhun ap Iorwerth, a fellow Plaid AM called Mr Lewis "a young gentleman of immense political ability".
Labour AM Dawn Bowden said it was a "very dark day", while former first minister Carwyn Jones said Mr Lewis was "admired across the parties."