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Childhood friends from Whitby learn Welsh and make Wales their home

Childhood friends from Whitby learn Welsh and make Wales their home

Two friends who grew up together in the same Yorkshire town, before going their separate ways, are now speaking Welsh with each other, while living in Cardiff and working for the same organisation.

Angharad Alter and Elizabeth James, who both work for Qualifications Wales, spent their early years in Whitby on the north Yorkshire coast, before Angharad and her family moved to Reading.

Angharad, whose grandmother speaks Welsh, started studying at Cardiff University in 2014, where she met her Welsh-speaking husband, Dewi.  Dewi encouraged her to learn Welsh, and she is now following a ‘Gloywi’ (Proficiency) level course with Learn Welsh Cardiff, which is run by Cardiff University on behalf of the National Centre for Learning Welsh.

Angharad says:  ‘‘I began learning Welsh after I started university, but it was my husband, Dewi, who encouraged me to continue.  The Welsh language is such a big part of his life and I wanted to be a part of that.  I now speak Welsh with my husband and his family, my grandmother and many of my friends.’’

Elizabeth James’s main reason for moving to Wales was to be with her husband, Owain, who is from Cardiff, but whom she met whilst living in Leeds, working as a history teacher in a local secondary school.

Elizabeth explains: ‘‘I moved to Cardiff after getting engaged to my husband as he was passionate about returning to Wales following many years studying in England.  I spent lockdown living with my husband’s Welsh-speaking family and started following the ‘Deg am Dri’ live lessons on Facebook, held by Helen Prosser, from the National Centre for Learning Welsh.  I practised speaking Welsh around the dinner table and I haven’t looked back since!’’

Angharad and Elizabeth kept in touch during their teenage years, and both attended Christian camps in Bala, Meirionnydd.  In Cardiff, they both go to a Welsh church and are involved in a host of activities through the medium of Welsh on a weekly basis.

Angharad and Elizabeth also regularly use Welsh with colleagues and in meetings at work, as Elizabeth explains:

‘‘My confidence in using Welsh at work has grown, and I’m looking forward to developing this further.  My employers have been extremely encouraging and supported me in taking a week-long residential Learn Welsh course at Nant Gwrtheyrn earlier this year.  Learning Welsh and using the language in work and outside has been a joy so far.  I had written myself off as ‘not a languages person’ but my experience has shown that language learning is for everyone.’’

Image: Elizabeth (left) and Angharad (right).