Exactly 11 years ago today @aran published a post on Facebook inviting people to join a forum where they could get access to the grand total of 15 half-hour audio Welsh lessons!
He and I were living in a bedsit on a small-holding just outside the village of Nefyn. I was pregnant with our first child and was uncomfortably six days overdue - Angharad Lliar was born four days later on the 25th of January, 2009 - Dydd Santes Dwynwen.
Aran had been raised all over the globe, due to his parents’ careers, and only carried with him snippets of his grandparents’ mother tongue. So when he had the opportunity to return to Wales in his early 30s (after a few years language teaching abroad) he decided to immerse himself in the Welsh language and become fluent as quickly as possible.
He and I met only a handful of years later via a Welsh dating website - unfortunately no longer active… I think we may have broken it… :
The surprising thing is, I didn’t actually realise he’d learnt Welsh till he told me on our third or fourth date!
Having been on the learning journey himself is what initially inspired Aran to start writing the course in 2007/2008… that and somehow feeling we didn’t have enough to deal with at the time…
One of my favourite stories to tell, is the one where he sat me and our baby bump down one day, on the little wicker sofa we had in the bedsit and told me he’d had an idea about how he could make learning Welsh easier. I rolled my eyes at the prospect of yet another of his quirky entrepreneurial ideas, but soon found myself as excited as he was at the prospect of what could be - actually making our beautiful language easier to learn? I was sold.
A few weeks later we were in the car with a radiator, blanket, cushion, picnic, flask of tea and dialogue scripts on sheets of A4 paper, on our way to a friends (rather cold and damp) recording studio, to record those first few lessons. It was hit and miss in those days as I seemed to have a very active baby who often kicked when it was my turn to speak, making me mess up my lines…
So here we are 11 years later, surrounded by some of the most wonderful people I know - Welsh learners are just awesome! I feel so privileged to be sharing this journey and this forum with all of you, you add colour to my life every day.
I will be forever grateful to each and every one who’s taken this leap of faith and become new speakers of my mother tongue. I’m in constant awe of your enthusiasm and your dedication. Thank you for having faith in us and thank you for being there for each other, making this community so very special. I shall raise a glass to all of you this evening… Iechyd Da!