Shwmae Sumae Day will be celebrating its 7th year on the 15th of October this year, and as a part of the celebrations a series of champions across Wales will help promote the national day of celebrating the Welsh language. These champions encourage the act of starting each conversation in Welsh amongst those that are learners, with only a few words of Welsh, or fluent, through using simple phrases, as a means of normalising the language amongst their networks and communities.
Our fifth and final champion to be announced this year is Dan McCallum from Tairgwaith near Ammanford. Originally from Plymouth, he has worked as a Manager for Oxfam in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq; as a Manager for the Programme for Minority Rights Group in Africa and the Middle East; and as a teacher for Eritrean refugees in Sudan. Since moving to Wales twenty years ago, and starting on his journey of learning Welsh, Dan is now the manager of Awel Aman Tawe, a charity that works on developing renewable energy, energy conservation and environmental programmes in Wales. He is a director for Awel Coop which has developed a community wind farm on Gwrhyd Mountain to the north of Swansea. He is also a director for Egni Solar Coop, a project that has been placing solar panels on community buildings and schools since 2015, and who are currently working on a project to place 5MW of roof solar across Wales. Dan’s wife, poet and artist, Emily Hinshelwood has also learnt Welsh, and both daughters have attended the local Welsh medium school. Explaining the importance of the Welsh language, and his experience of learning, Dan says,
“The Welsh language is important to me because my work takes place within the local community and a number of other communities across Wales, where the Welsh language is the natural language of many people that I work with. As I experienced with my international work before coming to Wales, the ability to understand a language, be respectful of it and its speakers and of its history and cultural ties is essential, if you want to work with communities. Since learning Welsh, I have made many presentations in Welsh, and communicate in Welsh naturally. This is really important for me, and I can feel pride in myself that I can now count myself as a Welsh speaker! I also enjoy speaking with my uncle and my family from Betws, Ammanford where my mother is originally from. Welsh was her first language and her whole side of the family – so my uncle was really happy that I have learnt Welsh, and right from the very beginning, he switched to speaking only in Welsh with me. There are many people in Cwmllynfell where I work, who are Welsh speakers, like Mark the Butcher, who helps me to speak in Welsh!”
On Shwmae Sumae Day this year, Dan will be leading a group of pupils from Newport around the community wind turbine on Mynydd y Gwrhyd, and also hopes to send a special message from Egni Coops current art project which is raising awareness about climate change by sending a local artist to the moon! We look forward to receiving an interstellar Shwmae and Sumae this year!
Diolch o galon to Dan for supporting the campaign this year and take a look at egni.coop website for their latest projects and to support this community venture that is working towards de-carbonising Wales. 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.