Cynon Valley Leader column – 2nd August

It was so sad to hear that Ann Clwyd had passed away. Ann lived a remarkable and inspirational life, full of passion and a relentless commitment to campaigning for equality and human rights. I will always be grateful for the many years of friendship and advice she provided, and for the lessons I learned from her about public service. Ann achieved so much at a time when the barriers to women in politics were often insurmountable. Her legacy will be a strong one, and we are all the poorer for her passing. Nos da, Ann.

I wrote previously about Cerys O’Connell, the Mountain Ash swimmer who won six golds and a silver medal, and the Outstanding Junior Athlete award, at the World Transplant Games in Australia in April. To celebrate her achievement, I invited Cerys, her parents Alun and Lisa and her sisters Cari and Megan along to the Senedd. They met First Minister Mark Drakeford, Sport Minister Dawn Bowden and Deputy Presiding Officer David Rees, had a guided tour of the Senedd building and tickets for front-row seats at FMQs.

As the Senedd has now broken up for the summer recess, its great to be able to get back out and about around the constituency, visiting the groups it is more difficult to meet with when the Senedd is in session.

With good mental health being so important, I have enjoyed catching up with two Cynon Valley groups working hard to better promote this. Signposted Cymru is a Cynon Valley-based service with a Wales-wide impact. I arranged for Deputy Minister for Mental Health Lynne Neagle to meet Darren and the team at their base in Cynon Linc to find out more about the services they provide. I am also a very proud President of local charity Friends R Us Aberdare, which supports people with mental health issues, their families and carers. It was great to be able to attend their last meeting (pictured) – new members are always welcome!