Five competitors were last night announced as the finalists of the Welsh Learner of the Year competition, following a full day of activities and interviews at Yr Hen Lyfrgell (The Old Library) in the centre of Cardiff.
The five are Steve Dimmick, Cardiff, Mihil Patel, Cardiff, Yankier Pijeira Perez, Llanrug, Nicky Roberts, Aberystwyth and Matt Spry, Cardiff, in a competition which attracted 23 competitors, one of the highest number over the past few years.
Eisteddfod Organiser, Elen Elis, sais, “It’s great to see so many competitors taking part this year, and we look forward to getting to know the five finalists better over the next few months, as they prepare for the final during this year’s Eisteddfod week.
“We warmly congratulate each and every entrant, not only for competing but for their commitment to the language and culture. We wish them all very well in the future.”
The winner receives a trophy, donated by School of Welsh, Cardiff University and £300 from Peter and Gill Griffiths, Pentyrch, Cardiff, and the other four finalists will receive trophies donated by School of Welsh, Cardiff University. Finalists will also receive a year’s subscription to the magazine, Golwg, and gifts from Merched y Wawr. The winner is invited to become a member of the Gorsedd.
The Cardiff National Eisteddfod is held in Cardiff Bay from 3-11 August. The Welsh Learner of the Year ceremony will be held at The Classroom, Cardiff and Vale College on Wednesday evening, 8 August. For more information go online.
Notes to Editors
Originally from Blaina, Blaenau Gwent, Steve Dimmick lives in Cardiff, has three children and is a director of a technological company. Having started learning Welsh in evening classes in London and Cardiff, Steve says that a week in Nant Gwrtheyrn changed his life. He has also found the Say Something in Welsh website extremely useful when learning the language. He now uses Welsh every day and his passion for the language and Wales steers his life. He says, “Speaking two languages doesn’t just double your skills, it’s more like squaring your skills! I’ve found tens of circles of new friends because I speak Welsh. And my business depends on it.”
Mihil Patel comes from Bristol originally, but now lives in Cardiff and is studying for his doctorate in Imunology and Virology. Having spent an afternoon at Cardiff’s Tafwyl festival one year, Mihil decided to learn Welsh, after discovering that the language was vibrant, exciting and relevant to his life. He studied the Say Something in Welsh course and also attends Welsh classes at Cardiff University. Learning Welsh has enabled him to have the opportunity to promote science to children and young people, particularly through his volunteering work with the Her Gwyddoniaeth Bywyd quiz for year 10 pupils.
Yankier Pijeira Perez
Yankier Pijeira Perez came to Wales from Cuba in 2011, to join his wife, Lowri, and the family lives in Llanrug, Gwynedd. When he moved to Wales he decided to learn Welsh as the language is an important part of his local community. When he began working as a Pharmacy Technician at Ysbyty Gwynedd, it was obvious that many patients welcomed the opportunity to speak Welsh, and this further encouraged Yankier to learn the language. He says he has been lucky to have so many opportunities to speak Welsh with his family, in the community and at work, and is grateful to his colleagues for their support and for being so willing to listen and help when he began learning. He hopes to follow an academic Welsh course in the future.
Nicky Roberts and his wife, Lara, moved to Aberystwyth last year so they could live their lives in Welsh. Originally from the Rhondda Valley, Nicky chose to study Information Technology rather than Welsh at school, as he wanted to work in the IT world. Years later, while he was in France during the Euro 2016 games, he decided that the time was right for him to learn Welsh. He has now been learning for eighteen months. He says that the language has changed his life completely, and that he decided to share his linguistic journey by creating a You Tube channel, Learn Welsh with Nicky. Over 100 people have contacted Nicky to tell him that his journey has inspired them to learn Welsh too.
Originally from Plymouth, Matt Spry has lived in Cardiff for five years, and has been learning Welsh since 2015. He hopes to sit the Uwch (Higher) exam next year. He works for Cardiff University’s School of Welsh as a tutor-organiser, responsible for organising and teaching Welsh to refugees and asylum seekers living in Cardiff. He says that learning Welsh has been a great help to him over the years, and has changed his life completely. His ambition is to continue to work as a Welsh tutor with refugees and asylum seekers, and he would also enjoy working on other innovative teaching projects, including offering Welsh lessons in prisons, to people with mental health issues, or those with drugs and alcohol issues.