Cynon Valley Leader column – 5th April

One of the best parts of my job is meeting people from Cynon Valley who have gone on to achieve great things, in the face of enormous personal tragedy or having overcome significant barriers.

Michelle Christopher’s daughter Chloe tragically died from sepsis, nearly ten years ago at the age of just seventeen. Since then, Michelle has campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness of sepsis and the signs and symptoms for which people should watch out. On Saturday 27th March Michelle arranged a sponsored walk from Glynhafod to Aberdare to further highlight this life-threatening condition, and also raise funds for the Sepsis Trust. I joined Michelle and a huge crowd of local people to take part in this National Walk (the only one in Wales), including local councillor Tina Williams, Beth Winter MP and TV weatherman Derek Brockway, who brought some much-needed sunshine. It was fantastic to see the community coming together in support of this cause, and its still possible to make a donation online at

In February, I met with Cerys O’Connell, an inspirational fourteen year old from Mountain Ash. At the age of just four, Cerys was diagnosed with Severe Aplastic Anaemia. The only solution was a transplant, which Cerys luckily could receive from her sister Megan. Since then, Cerys has become a  successful competitive swimmer, winning three gold medals and a silver for Wales at the British Transplant Games last year. This month, she will go on to compete as part of Team GB in the 24th World Transplant Games in Perth, Australia. I wished Cerys and the rest of Team GB ‘good luck’ in the Senedd, and also thanked all the local people whose generosity is enabling Cerys and her parents to travel to compete.

It really is a privilege to represent Cynon Valley and the fantastic people who live here.