The next item on our agenda is the 90-second statements. Julie Morgan.
Cofio Val—Remembering Val: Val Feld was the AM for Swansea East and it’s fitting that we remember her here on International Women’s Day. Val was passionately committed to equal opportunities and social justice. She was one of the key architects of devolution: one of the leaders of the ‘Yes for Wales’ campaign. The embedding of equal opportunities in the Assembly is largely due to the work of Val. We worked together when I was an MP in Westminster pursuing the Secretary of State at the time to ensure that the principle of equality of opportunity for all people was included in the first Government of Wales Act in 1998 and was to become the bedrock of this Assembly. She was relentless. She saw devolution as an opportunity to make Wales a more equal and more socially just society. Val had a remarkable record of public and voluntary service: she was a founder of Shelter Cymru, recognising the plight of the homeless and the importance of housing, and she was a director of the Equal Opportunities Commission for Wales from 1989 to 1999. She was also a mother and a partner. Some of you knew her during her short period as an Assembly Member. When she spoke, everyone listened. She spoke authoritatively, she had a wealth of experience and principles to bring. The sky was the limit for Val and her potential was tragically cut short with what turned out to be a fatal illness. I remember visiting her in Swansea with Jane Hutt shortly before she died. We miss her very much. We miss her very much.
‘The Bards of Wales’ is a poem that can be recited off by heart by many Hungarians, but in Wales little is known of this poem, written by Janos Arany in 1857. Just a few days ago marked his two-hundredth anniversary of his birthday. After refusing to write a poem celebrating the emperor of Austria, Franz Joseph, following a failed revolution in 1848 against the empire, Janos wrote ‘The Bards of Wales’, which recounts a legendary story of rebellion at which 500 Welsh poets were slaughtered by King Henry I at Montgomery castle after they refused to sing his praises as their conqueror. While Arany’s nineteenth-century poem is still taught in schools in Hungary, many living in Montgomeryshire and across Wales have never heard of it. So, I’m pleased to spread the word today. Last Thursday, a special televised celebration of his life—the life of Janos Arany—was held in Budapest, attended by the Hungarian President, at which Arany was presented with a posthumous honorary status of ‘Freeman of Montgomery’ by the mayor of the town.