Over the past five years, Shwmae Sumae Day has called on champions across Wales to 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.
The fourth champion to be announced this year is Valerie Humphreys, originally from Ireland she now lives and works in Carmarthen. She works part-time in Glangwili Hospital as a sonographer and is a mother of three. She started her journey of learning Welsh when her children began attending the local Welsh medium school. She believes that schools have an important role to play in introducing the language to families without any Welsh language background – as they can show how much fun there is to have through the language. This is what started her and her family on their journey with Welsh. Val says;
“I began learning Welsh when we decided to send our children to the Welsh medium school. My husband is also from Ireland, so we had literally no Welsh in the home before then! But we wanted to support our children with their education – read with them, help with homework and also be able to take part in their school life in general. I learnt Irish and French when I was in school myself, so I was hoping that I could learn Welsh quite easily too! It was difficult at the beginning, but the children were a massive help with helping me learn, because I could practice with them, without worrying. They corrected my pronunciation and vocabulary and everything! Now, I’m attending Welsh language lessons in ‘Yr Atom’ in Carmarthen every week, and I love learning with my tutor and classmates, and I will begin an Advanced course this year! I have a lot of friends that speak with me in Welsh, and it’s lovely to have a social life with them without worrying about understanding everything – and what’s great is that they don’t have to switch their language on my behalf! The Welsh language helps with my work too. I work with young people, and sometimes they don’t speak English at all. Now that I can speak Welsh, I can help them feel more comfortable because they can communicate in their own language.”
Explaining the importance of Shwmae Sumae Day and learning the Welsh language, Val says,
“Starting a conversation by just saying Shwmae to people – with no pressure – means that you have nothing to lose! It’s simple to do. Shwmae Sumae helps a lot of people with confidence too. It’s a way in, a way of joining the Welsh speaking community, and if you go on to learn Welsh you soon learn how welcoming the people of that community are and how much you can gain by being a part of it. Yes, it takes effort to learn a language. A lot of time, a lot of worrying, many mistakes. The most difficult thing is finding the confidence to speak with people – and worrying how you sound or if you’re making mistakes. Although I will be in England on Shwmae Sumae Day this year, I hope to start my interactions with a Shwmae, and by doing so, start a conversation about the language with people that have no knowledge of Welsh. You never know, maybe someone else can be inspired to learn!”
Diolch o galon to Valerie for supporting the campaign this year and for all those Welsh learners working within the Welsh NHS! 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.