Some people ask me how I got interested in politics. Other people ask me "how did you get in my house?" but that's for another day. This story is about how an 18-year-old right-leaning idiot English boy got taken under the wing of a young Welsh radical named Mabon ap Gwynfor.
Mabon had the courage of his convictions and introduced me to the concept of "direct action" to make a political point or raise awareness of a particular issue. He wasn't afraid to get into a bit of trouble if the end result was worth it. It was exciting to be a part of.
Mabon showed me Wales. I'd always liked the place, but under Mabon's tutelage, I truly fell in love with Wales.
He found me at university as a well-meaning would-be conservative who enjoyed volunteering for community projects and pitching in, but who also held some very "traditional" values, particularly about the make-up of families and their role in society. He realised much of my worldview had been formed through the prism of what is now known as the London bubble.
He taught me about Welsh history. He introduced me to people whose communities had been devastated by Conservative politicians in Westminster. He gave me a glimpse into how a strong trade union movement, coupled with Welsh-language activism, had fought back against London policymakers who had led a campaign to erase Welsh identity and heritage. He led me into grassroots, decentralised organising for political action and demonstrated how much better it was for including under-represented people than any sort of political campaigning that relied on top-down structures.
We used to talk and drink and get into trouble late into the night, particularly as he prepared me to take a leading role at our Students' Union. I learned a lot from him - not only about Welsh history and politics, but about personal diplomacy, driving change in a society dominated by committees and much, much more.
Mabon has always had a drive in him to change things for the better, to empower people who are often left behind due to any number of intended or accidental discriminatory behaviours, to build communities based on trust, respect and the fundamental sacred dignity of human beings.
Mabon's grandfather, Gwynfor Evans, was the first person to represent Plaid Cymru as an MP in Westminster, and it was probably inevitable Mabon would follow in his footsteps in some fashion. For as long as I have known him, Mabon has been almost as dedicated to the party as to the people of Wales themselves. He is a born leader, and is no newcomer to the party or to elections - having been a candidate for parliament a few times already.
Such is his dedication to the party, he chose to stand in areas in which Plaid never really stood much of a chance - but by doing so, by daring to push the boundaries of the movement's appeal, he has made inroads into new territories for Plaid and brought his message of social inclusion and a radical future for Wales to new audiences. He has done the movement and the party a great service by his repeated sacrifices.
Now Mabon is returning to the Welsh-speaking heartlands of Plaid's support, seeking his chance to become a new voice for Wales. By putting himself forward for the Plaid candidacy for Dwyfor-Meirionnydd, Mabon is giving Plaid - and the people of north-west Wales - a fantastic opportunity to be represented by a genuinely passionate activist who can inspire even the least-likely of people to become empowered in shaping their destiny.
Good luck, Mabon.