The second wife of former Torfaen MP Leo Abse has spoken out for the first time since his death ten years ago. In an exclusive interview, Ania Czepulkowska-Abse spoke to TOMOS POVEY

“THERE was a gap between us but that did not matter,” says Ania Czepulkowska-Abse of her relationship with her husband Leo, who was praised for pioneering gay rights. He was fifty years her senior.

“The most important thing is that we supported each other. We kept the other alive.”

Mrs Czepulkowska-Abse was 33 and her husband 83 when they married in 2000.

“The tabloids were fascinated by our marriage,” adds the now 51-year-old. 

“They ended up printing a lot of unfounded things. But in the end, we grew to ignore it.”

The pair met by chance in 1998 remembers the native of Gdansk, Poland.

“My friend and I were walking when I first saw him,” says the painter and designer, who lives and works in London.

“He was sitting outside his house in Chiswick smoking a cigar.

“In no time at all, he wanted to take me everywhere.”

The pair were wed in London two years later.

“It was his brother Wilfred who suggested him to marry someone else after his first wife died - but it had to be someone younger,” adds Mrs Czepulkowska-Abse.

“I first came to Britain when I was 24 to pick strawberries after failing my Polish exam. Before this I had four different jobs and ended up working every day of the week. It was very tough going.

“Meeting Leo allowed me to slow down. Leo would tell me how well I was doing - and that made me feel lovely.

“It was the best thing that could have happened to either of us.

“ I remember he used to hate Christmas because that is the time that his first wife died. But I managed to get him to enjoy it and introduced him to drink vodka too.”

Mrs Czepulkowska-Abse said she has many fond memories of her late husband and added she “misses him a lot”.

“The one thing Leo loved was talking to people,” she said.

“He liked his wine, too - especially red.”

To mark the tenth anniversary of his death, she visited her husband’s grave at St Gabriel’s Church in Cwmbran this week.

“Leo had planned his funeral in the 1970s, but he did not say where he wanted to be buried,” she said.

“I know that he loved this area and asked if he could be buried here.

“I polished his stone when I visited so he can better see the valleys he loved.”

She added: “The sad thing is, if Leo had still been alive he would have carried on making a difference for everybody. And for Wales especially.”

To read the full interview of Leo Abse's achievements, visit here