GWENT'S newest AM has officially taken up her seat in the Assembly, and used her maiden speech to pay a heartfelt tribute to her predecessor.

Delyth Jewell was appointed as Plaid Cymru AM for South Wales East following the death of Steffan Lewis last month.

Opening her speech in the Assembly this afternoon, Ms Jewell quoted US President Lyndon B Johnson, who took up the office in 1963 following the assassination of John F Kennedy, saying: "All I have I would have given gladly not to be standing here today."


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Delyth Jewell sworn in as Plaid's new AM following death of Steffan Lewis

Paying tribute to her predecessor, who was 34, she said: "The sheer scale of this loss is difficult to put into words."

Ms Jewell added: "It's long been a dream of mine to be here, not ever in these circumstances, but a dream all the same.

"Yeats taught me that in dreams begin responsibilities.

"I have a responsibility to the people of South Wales East to do the best I can, to my party and group, and I have a responsibility to Steffan.

"I do not bear it lightly.

"I know I must give all I have for him.

"I know that, no matter where in this chamber I sit, many of you will think of me as being in Steffan's place, and I don't mind that.

"In fact, I will consider it an honour, for, although I am this chamber's newest member, in Steffan's place, I've been given the best seat in the house.

"I am in Steffan's place, but I will never replace him. I hope you will let me share it with him."

South Wales Argus:

South Wales East AM Steffan Lewis. Picture: Plaid Cymru

As Mr Lewis, who died on Friday, January 11, following a year-long battle with cancer, was elected on Plaid Cymru's regional list in the 2016 Assembly Election, Ms Jewell was automatically appointed in his place without need for a by-election.