LEWIS Thelwall was a 19-year-old student from Pendarvis Terrace, Port Talbot, with a budding photography business and a large, vibrant community of friends and family. He was an enthusiastic member of Port Talbot Camera Club, a volunteer for Port Talbot Magnet, and had a keen interest in documenting the history and evolution of the town through photography.
Earlier this year, he won the Port Talbot Camera Club award for the Best Portrait. A former pupil of Glan-Y-Mor Primary and Sandfields Comprehensive schools, Lewis achieved nine A* at GCSE and progressed to study Forensics at Neath Port Talbot College, where he proved himself an excellent student, achieving distinctions in his course. Originally from Swindon, Lewis had also lived on Bevan Street in Port Talbot, along with his mother Tina and father Les, who passed away two years ago. He also had two brothers, Travis, 12, and Lloyd, 7, and a sister, Tia, 3 as well as a huge number of friends including Barry Kirk (Captain Beany), Allen Blethyn, Sean Pursey, Michael Watkins, Andrew Waters and everyone at Port Talbot Camera Club.
Sadly, Lewis died at the end of November. His mother said of him: “Lewis was quite quiet and kept a lot inside. He was always polite, loving and caring, and very intelligent. We love him and miss him dearly.” Since his death, two Facebook tribute pages have been established, with more than 2,000 members between them.
Here is a selection of tributes from just some of the people whose lives he touched.
Captain Beany (Fundraiser)
Ever so saddened to hear of the premature death of a much talented youngster as Lewis Thelwall. We met on many charitable endeavours during the time that we first encountered each other at a St Paul’s Church Fete some while ago. Young Lewis took some great pictures of the Captain in action, and one of the endearing things he had was one of charming charisma and we instantly bonded together to make a great dynamic duo. He took some amazing pictures and I knew that from his Facebook photography page, that this young man had a rare talent for shooting pictures. I for one, shall sadly miss his colourful persona and that goes out to the rest of the residents of Port Talbot who knew him as a dear good friend.
I am still in total shock of his premature demise, and my prayers and thoughts go out to his beloved mother Tina and family.
Darren Boxer (Chairman – Port Talbot Camera Club)
Everyone at the club is devastated, our thoughts are with his family. Lewis was a very much loved member who was involved with everything at the club. He was a very talented photographer with a promising future. Lewis was specially gifted in portrait photography and won the Best Digital Portrait in this year’s finals. He was a talented young man who will be missed by all.
Rachel Howells (Port Talbot Magnet)
All of us at Port Talbot Magnet were incredibly saddened to hear of the tragic and untimely death of Lewis Thelwall. Lewis was one of our regular volunteers at Port Talbot Magnet, and had contributed news stories and photographs to the website on all kinds of topics, from music gigs to charity fetes, from the opening of Gatti’s ice cream to his photos of the Aberavon Beach Festival. He loved Port Talbot and was hugely involved in community life. I got to know Lewis when he came to Magnet asking to learn more about news photography and I invited him to accompany me on interviews and stories I was working on. He came with me to most of the public meetings held by the Afan Lido campaigners earlier this year and took some excellent reportage shots. He was keen, curious, dedicated, reliable and talented – all the qualities we would look for in a professional photo-journalist, and we will miss his contribution greatly. He was an asset to Port Talbot, had a great future ahead of him, and our thoughts are with his friends and family at this sad time.
Allen Blethyn (Port Talbot Old and New)
I have only been a friend of of Lewis for about a year,we met owing to us both being at events in our town with our cameras clicking side by side. I took an immediate liking to this seemingly little lad with brightly coloured hair. After a few such meetings he invited me to view some of his photography work, and even though I am no expert in such things, I could see straight away that he was someone with a special talent.
I then tried to help him gain work in his new photographic venture which he had then just formed.
After that we met up regularly at mainly Church and Town Centre events to do with charity work, which we both supported. We recently spoke of getting together, with me taking him with me on my walks of interesting places within our Borough, for him to use his camera skills to the full on such locations. We thought that with me adding historical notes to go with his pictures, we could maybe work together on a future project.
I am saddened to say that those walks together will now never bear any fruit, but as I make the walks alone, my thoughts will be with young Lewis.
Peter Ross (Port Talbot Old and New)
His hair that changed colour by day
Stopped all that saw from being down
The day after tragedy came his way
His rainbow shone over all our town
If you would like to add your own tribute to Lewis, please use the comments section below or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Details of Lewis’s funeral have not been formally released but will be added to this page as soon as they become available.