Steffan Lewis’ heroic example will inspire Wales for generations

Steffan Lewis AM. Picture by National Assembly (CC BY 2.0)

Ifan Morgan Jones

I was six years old when my own father died of bowel cancer. Although a quarter of a century has passed since his death, I don’t think there is a day that goes past when I don’t think about him.

Friends, family and co-workers who knew him personally always spoke warmly of him and I’m lucky that, because he was a broadcaster, I can still hear his voice and read his words.

His example as a person and his mental strength when dealing with his illness continue to inspire me every day.

His death also reminds me daily that life is short, there is no guarantee of tomorrow, and what we want to achieve today can’t be put off for a day that may never come.

As my father did, Steffan Lewis leaves behind a young family and I know that his own son, in particular, will be comforted by how much his dad was loved and respected by those who knew him, and inspired by his example as a politician and a person.

But Steffan Lewis’ example will inspire those beyond his immediate circle of family, friends and co-workers. As a politician, he has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people.

There is a tendency to exaggerate in the immediate aftermath of someone’s death, but I don’t think there is any doubt that he was heroic in the way he continued to fight for Wales to the very end.

Steffan Lewis’ interviews over the last few months make it quite clear that he was fully aware that he probably did not have very long to live.

Absolutely no-one would have blamed him if, on receiving his terminal diagnosis, he had stepped back from public life immediately.

That he remained one of the most impactful politicians in Wales right up to his death shows not just a heroic mental fortitude, but also that being a politician was not just a job for him. Ensuring a better future for Wales was his driving purpose in life.

Less than a month before his death, he continued to call for radical solutions to strengthen Wales’ voice on subjects such as Brexit, and continued to contribute articles to sites such as this. While his body was weak his mind continued to work as hard as ever.

He knew that he would likely die a long time before even glimpsing the promised land that he was striving towards, except for in his minds’ eye.

There is no comfort to be found anywhere in knowing that a father has died at the age of 34. There is no comfort to be found anywhere in knowing that one of the brightest young stars in Welsh politics’ firmament has been so cruelly taken away.

But if Steffan’s heroic battle inspires us to follow his example, and work tirelessly and selflessly to improve the lives of others, his influence will continue for decades to come.

It also reminds us not to wait until tomorrow. Let’s work to realise his vision of a better Wales today.

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