From study partner to life partner – how learning Welsh
brought Pontypridd couple together
As romantics across Wales celebrate St Valentine’s Day, a Pontypridd couple have spoken about how learning Welsh brought them together.
Mair Lenny Turner, and her husband, Drew, first met as students at Bangor University in 2010. Mair, originally from Aberystwyth and a fluent Welsh speaker, was studying for a PhD in Welsh, while Englishman, Drew, from Winscombe, Somerset was studying an MA in Chemistry.
The pair were house mates in a shared student house, when Drew decided to start learning Welsh on an intensive 'Wlpan' course. Mair was on hand to help with homework and over time, the pair grew closer and fell in love.
“Moving to north Wales from Somerset was a big change,” explains Drew, “and in order to fully immerse myself in local life, I decided to learn Welsh. Mair was a huge help, and as she helped me practice, we gradually got to know each other.”
A few years later, Drew proposed in Welsh, to Mair at one of their favourite spots, Aberystwyth Castle, near Mair’s childhood home.
Drew remembers meeting Mair’s parents, also fluent Welsh speakers, for the first time.
“Mair’s friends had been reminding me to use the formal ‘chi’ greeting when meeting my future in-laws for the first time. I got out of the car and the first thing I said was ‘Sut wyt ti?’ before realising I’d made a mistake. This didn’t phase them at all and they’ve been ‘ti’ ever since!”
Both Drew and Mair wanted their wedding ceremony in both Welsh and English, which made the day even more memorable. Drew explains: “Being able to exchange rings on our wedding day in Welsh was a special moment for me. I had practiced for a whole week before the big day and when my new father-in-law, a minister, married us in my wife’s first language, I knew this was an important moment in our relationship.”
The couple have settled in Pontypridd and work in Cardiff, Mair as an officer for the National Centre for Learning Welsh and as a Welsh language tutor, and Drew, as a data analyst for Public Health Wales. Drew continues to study Welsh and as a scientist used to spotting patterns and structures, he says he enjoys learning about linguistic patterns.
Welsh is a major part of the couple’s home life too and, luckily for Drew, Mair is also on hand to help him revise for his upcoming Welsh exam.
Welsh courses at all levels, from beginners to experienced speakers, are available across Wales. More information can be found at www.learnwelsh.cymru