Da Iawn - Barry wins Welsh learner award

A bookshop owner has been named Mid-Wales’ Welsh Learner of the Year at an awards ceremony.

Barry Lord
Barry Lord

Barry Lord, who is originally from Lancashire, was inspired to learn Welsh on his first visit to the National Eisteddfod.

He has owned a book store in Montgomery since 2018, and takes every opportunity to speak Welsh with his customers. He is also an active member of a Welsh reading club in Montgomery and enjoys supporting other learners.

The award was one of six to be announced at the online Aberystwyth University ceremony.

Clwb Hwb Maldwyn was also awarded the Welsh Group of the Year prize. The club used to meet as a small group in Newtown, but since the lockdown, up to 30 now meet on Zoom.

Mr Lord said: “I think that starting to learn Welsh has been the most valuable decision I have made since I moved to Wales, so I feel so proud to receive this award. I would like to say how grateful I am to everyone who has supported me over the last five and a half years, including our excellent tutors and other people I have come to know who speak Welsh as a first language.”

“The whole experience of learning the language has been immensely enjoyable and has opened up a variety of new and sometimes unexpected opportunities for me. For example, I have become confident enough speaking the language to greet and socialise with customers in our bookstore and take part in meetings with one of our book suppliers through the medium of Welsh.

"I have also developed a strong interest in Welsh music as a direct result of attending musical events such as competitions during the National Eisteddfod as well as entertainment evenings, concerts and traditional Christmas services singing in Montgomeryshire and beyond.

"I would encourage anyone who is thinking of starting to learn Welsh to give it a try; I've never regretted it!”

Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University said: “Very many congratulations to everyone on their success in learning Welsh. As a Welsh learner myself, I know how much effort is needed to learn a new language.

Tutor

"I would like to thank everyone for making that effort, and for being so enthusiastic in their efforts. Wales’ unique language is a special national treasure, and a gift to everyone who lives here.

"A special thanks goes to the tutors who have helped so many learners over the years. Thanks to them all for their excellent work, and to everyone in the Learning Welsh team.”

There are over 3,000 learners following Learn Welsh and Lifelong Learning courses through Aberystwyth University and its partners.

Aberystwyth University's Learn Welsh Centre provides courses in Ceredigion, Powys and Carmarthenshire with specific provision for learning Welsh in the workplace and for families. More information is available by going to learnwelsh.cymru

This year's Tutor of the Year is Sarah Graham from Knighton in Powys. Sarah started working at Aberystwyth University as a tutor four years ago, and now teaches eight courses to 94 learners.

Sarah wins the award for being an excellent tutor, but especially for her contribution to the field during lockdown. She has a specialist background in information technology and cyber security, helping to quickly shift courses to Zoom at the start of the pandemic last year. She has prepared training materials, and has given tutors a great deal of help both regionally and nationally.

She said: “Receiving this award is a huge honour – thank you very much I learned Welsh with Learn Welsh Ceredigion, Powys and Carmarthenshire. After receiving so much invaluable support during my time as a learner, it was a privilege to be able to offer a little bit of additional help back to the team as a tutor. I was very happy to be part of everyone’s wonderful efforts as we all changed overnight from teaching face to face to teaching on-line – which was a bit of an adventure!”

“Of course, we couldn’t have made this a success without the learners, they have been so supportive and enthusiastic, so a big thank you to them too!”

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