THE Welsh language Commissioner Aled Roberts has died aged 59, it has been confirmed. 

Mr Roberts, who was appointed in April 2019, died on Sunday, February 13, his office has said. It added he had been working through illness. 

He was married to Llinos, and the couple had sons, Ifan and Osian.

Before being appointed to the position promoting the use of Welsh, and protecting its use as an official language, Mr Roberts had been a Liberal Democrat Member of the then Welsh Assembly, from 2011 to 2016. Before his election to Cardiff Bay he had been the leader of Wrexham Borough Council is his native north east. 

He had been mayor of Wrexham from 2003 to 2004 before becoming council leader the following year, a position he held until his election to the National Assembly. 

Deputy Welsh Language Commissioner, Gwenith Price, paid tribute to her colleague who put people “at the centre of everything he did”. 

Ms Price said: “Aled was a warm character with an extraordinary talent to bring people together. 

“His love for his community, and his passion for the growth of the Welsh language in north-east Wales, drove him to want to see change which would benefit the whole nation. 

“People were at the centre of everything he did. He had a firm vision for increasing rights for Welsh speakers, and for ensuring justice where he saw unfairness. He wished to see a Wales where every citizen had the opportunity to speak and use the language. His enthusiasm was unmatched, and he continued to work throughout his illness. It was a privilege to work with him. 

“We are deeply saddened by the news of his death, and we know that everyone who has worked with him will feel the same.” 

Ms Price said the thoughts of the commissioner’s office were with his family. 

The former politician had been born and raised Rhosllannerchrugog near Wrexham and in his position as language commissioner had recently taken part in BBC journalist Jeremy Bowen’s programme on Wales in which he shared his passion for supporting Wrexham AFC with Welsh and English speakers. 

He studied Law at University of Wales Aberystwyth and worked as a solicitor in the Wrexham, Ruthin and Mold areas for a number of years. 

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds, who is also originally from Wrexham, has also paid tribute to a “committed liberal”. 

Ms Dodds said the former council leader had served as the party’s shadow minister for children, education and the Welsh language in the Assembly. 

“Throughout his time as an Assembly Member Aled continued to put standing up for his communities at the very heart of everything he did. Just one example was his tireless and successful campaign for Llay to have solar panels installed on all homes within the estate. 

“He is also well remembered for only ever making his contributions in the Siambr in Welsh.”

She also paid tribute to his other achievements, including serving as a governor for schools in the Wrexham area, and said he was a “committed Christian”. 

Ms Dodds said: “Outside of politics, Aled also had a distinguished career as local solicitor and in 1985 he was part of a campaign to protect a local Miners' institute from closure.  

“Aled will be most remembered for his dedication to the Welsh language. A tireless advocate of the protection and promotion of Welsh, he excelled in his role as the Welsh Language Commissioner and sought to promote the language in all aspects of life, including in his role as an Assembly Member.” 

First minister Mark Drakeford has said he was shocked by the news and posted on Twitter: "I am shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden death of Aled Roberts today.

"He brought a breadth of experience to the role of @ComyGymraeg and focused on making Welsh a living language that's part of our everyday experience.

"My thoughts are with his family and friends."

Cymdeithas yr Iaith, the Welsh language society, said Mr Roberts had made an important contribution to Wales and his community and it had been a pleasure to work with him since he was an Assembly Member. 

"More than anything he was a warm and caring man," the society said in a tweet posted in Welsh which also said its thoughts were with his family, friends and his co-workers.

Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for the Welsh language, Heledd Fychan MS, said Mr Roberts was “hugely respected across the political parties” and said: “He was passionate about the Language, and the use of it in our everyday lives, and he will be greatly missed. 

“On behalf of Plaid Cymru, I would like to send our deepest sympathy to his family and friends today, and thank you for his contribution to the nation. 

Mr Roberts is also survived by his mother and sister.

  • This article originally appeared on our sister site The National.