Announcing the second champion for Shwmae Sumae Day campaign 2019! Champions across Wales help promote the national day of celebrating the Welsh language, held on the 15th of October each year. These champions encourage the act of starting each conversation in Welsh, and using simple phrases, as a means of normalising the language amongst their networks and communities.
We are very proud to announce that our second champion for 2019 is the Storyteller and National Eisteddfod Welsh Learner of the Year, Fiona Collins, originally from Hampshire, and now living in Carrog, Denbighshire. Fiona began learning Welsh in London, before continuing to learn once she decided to move to Wales. It was ‘hiraeth’ or longing that brought Fiona to Wales. Her mother was from Rhymney, a nurse who moved to a small hospital in Hampshire after working in London during the Second World War. Her father ran a pub opposite the hospital, and that is how her parents first met! Fiona is the first of her family to learn Welsh. She is a professional Storyteller and believes that to retell the stories of Wales, it was essential to have the ability to recount the stories in the Welsh language – “the lands legends through the language of the land” as she explains. Describing the importance of Shwmae Sumae Day, and her role as a champion, Fiona says:
“Shwmae Sumae Day encourages people to start each conversation in Welsh, and there’s no better way to give people confidence than by encouraging them to use every single word that they possibly can. I think everybody in Wales has a little bit of Welsh. We all know that ‘Araf’ painted on the road means slow down, and that ‘Maes Parcio’ is somewhere to leave your car! So, I always encourage people who aren’t Welsh speakers not to say ‘I don’t speak Welsh’, but rather to say: ‘I speak a little bit of Welsh’. In that way, they can acknowledge the Welsh that they DO have, even if it is only ‘road sign Welsh’”
Fiona would like to see more shops, small and large, encouraging their staff to greet everyone in Welsh on Shwmae Sumae Day this year, normalising the language and creating more of a celebratory feeling. She would also like to see more passion encouraged amongst school pupils who are already active in climate issues, to be passionate for their language too. On Shwmae Sumae Day this year, Fiona will be travelling to south Wales to support local activities there to celebrate and use the Welsh language;
“I have just received an invitation to go to Llantrisant on the day to support Welsh learning groups and the local Merched y Wawr branch as they celebrate the Welsh language. I’m looking forward to visit an area that is not familiar to me, and to meet other learners and those proud of their language.”
‘Diolch’ to Fiona for her enthusiasm and commitment to the Welsh language and supporting the Shwmae Sumae campaign this year. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and assistance and see also our website www.shwmae.cymru for resources that can help you organise events for the day!
Mae’r Gymraeg yn perthyn i bawb. The Welsh language belongs to us all.