Seren yr Wythnos | Star of the Week

It was so lovely seeing our very first Bootcampers last weekend in Llandrindod.

It made Catrin and me realise that (what with one thing and another over the years) we haven’t always put as much focus on the forum, on this magical community and its members, as it (and they!) deserve.

It’s time we changed that.

And to get the ball rolling, I thought it would be good to have a ‘Star of the Week’ post - a chance for me to talk about SSiWers past and present who have helped form this community and make this project so lively and exciting. As well as putting the spotlight on some very deserving people, I’m also hoping it will (once it’s built up a bit) help new members feel that they’re getting to know who’s who quickly and easily… :slight_smile:

Seren yr Wythnos #1

:star: :star2: Iestyn ap Dafydd :star2: :star:

Who else could it be?! The man you know as the Voice of the South (which always makes me imagine him on a hilltop in Llandysul looking a lot like the Angel of the North) - who is also my long-term friend, co-conspirator, business partner and idea generator.

Late in 2008, Iestyn agreed (perhaps with more kindness than sense!) to southernificate the lessons I was building, and to record them, and to find a female voice. Then, when it became clear that what we were doing had some real legs, he agreed to become my business partner, and took over full responsibility for all the actual, proper, grown-up stuff like legal things and tax things and all sort of nightmares that I only know by the collective name of ‘stuff’ (or, when I’m feeling technical, ‘things’).

You can imagine, I’m sure, how long SSiW would have survived if Iestyn hadn’t agreed to be the grown-up…

Whatever I say here about Iestyn is going to feel as though it’s been cut short - we’ve worked together on other stuff before SSiW, most noticeably when we were part of running the housing, community and language pressure group Cymuned, and we’ll be working together in some shape or form for the rest of our lives - which is one of the luckiest and happiest things that’s happened to me.

Iestyn has been a voice of consistent calm on the rare occasions when things have become heated in the community, and he is one of the most enthusiastic and inspiring supporters of learners I’ve ever met. Whatever you throw at Iestyn, he’ll find a way to deal with it, and to keep on smiling and laughing (even if it does mean he needs to add a daily pint of coffee to the mix!).

He undersells himself regularly - he told our original Bootcampers last Saturday that I could have found someone else to play his role in SSi, but he couldn’t have found someone else to play mine - which is probably the only genuinely daft thing I’ve heard him say. I couldn’t even begin to imagine still being on this journey without everything he’s done and everything he is.

And the fun thing is, it still feels as though we’re only just getting started…:slight_smile:


How about you?

What have you appreciated most about Iestyn over the years?

What difference has he made to you?

Let’s give him a chance to see how much he really matters…

Seren yr Wythnos #1

:star: :star2: Iestyn ap Dafydd :star2: :star:

Seren yr Wythnos #2

:star: :star2: Catrin Lliar Jones :star2: :star:

Seren yr Wythnos #3

:star: :star2: Cat Dafydd :star2: :star:

Seren yr Wythnos #4

:star: :star2: Dee McCarney :star2: :star:

Seren yr Wythnos #5

:star: :star2: Spenny :star2: :star:

Seren yr Wythnos #6

:star: :star2: Jeff Lewis :star2: :star:

Seren yr Wythnos #7

:star: :star2: Ifan Baines :star2: :star:

Seren yr Wythnos #8

:star: :star2: Kev Smith :star2: :star:

Seren yr Wythnos #9

:star: :star2: James Mahoney :star2: :star:

Seren yr Wythnos #10

:star: :star2: Louis van Ekert :star2: :star:

Seren yr Wythnos #11

:star: :star2: Rob Bruce :star2: :star:

Seren yr Wythnos #12

:star: :star2: Huw Jones :star2: :star:

Seren yr Wythnos #13

:star: :star2: Diane Owen :star2: :star:

Seren yr Wythnos #14

:star: :star2: Leia Fee :star2: :star:

Seren yr Wythnos #15

:star: :star2: Sionned :star2: :star:

Seren yr Wythnos #16

:star: :star2: Sarah-Jane :star2: :star:

Seren yr Wythnos #17

:star: :star2: Geraint Scourfield :star2: :star:


Doing the northern version and not having attended bootcamp i can’t really say much.

However, anyone who supports the Scarlets deserves praise in my book.

On a more serious note, i know how difficult organising mini bwtcamp can be, so hats off to iestyn for organising the proper thing.


Bootcamp - definitely! If it weren’t for that week, and Iestyn’s calm, jolly, kind, helpful and generous presence I wouldn’t be the Welsh-speaker I am today.


I’ve often expressed my gratitude publicly and privately to Iestyn, Cat, Aran and Catrin for the way in which they have enriched my life but this gives me the opportunity (diolch, @aran) to concentrate on Iestyn’s specific attributes.

I admire him as a wonderful father and, though I haven’t checked with Cat specifically, I suspect he is a pretty good husband.
I admire his commitment to the Welsh language.
I acknowledge his pivotal role in the SSi project.
I appreciate and try to emulate his hwntw Cymraeg.
I envy his calm effectiveness.
He has quite a “tidy” tenor voice. :high_brightness:


I’ve been in Tresaith on Bootcamp with Iestyn four times. The first time I was a bit nervous, because I was following the Northern Course and whenever I tried some southern lessons, I could hardly understand anything. But every Bootcamp with Iestyn as tutor was a wonderful experience. I love Iestyn and Cat and the girls (with Bootcamp in July i couldn’t meet the boys). And I really admire how Iestyn copes with all the problems and tasks, especially how calm and patient he gets along with his girls.
I can’t come to the July Bootcamp this year.:disappointed:, but I hope to see the Ap Dafydd family in Caernarfon.
And, yes, he has a wonderful voice.


I’ll chime in.

Lovely wry sense of humor. I’ll never forget the maniacal-yet-supportive glint in Iestyn’s eye when he told us on the third-ever Bootcamp back in 2010 that he’d invited S4C to, you know, just kind of drop in on us.

Calm and endlessly patient in juggling advanced learners, new learners, small children, oddball logistics, and what have you.

And of course . . .

Great accent.


What a lovely tribute to Iestyn. Thoroughly well deserved , which I am happy to say even though I have never met him in person! His guidance and encouragement through the levels as well as on the forum has enabled me to finally start talking in Welsh and I will always be grateful to him (and to you Aran) for that. It has made a big difference to the quality of my life e.g. through new friendships and activities.
Thank you Iestyn!


Bootcamp! I first went 4 years ago and arrived feeling scared to death (apart from the whole room ‘full of strangers’ thing which I always struggle with, I’m learning northern Welsh). I need not have worried, I was so well looked after by Iestyn & Cat, they really helped me get the most out of it. I probably had less Welsh and less confidence than anyone else (it felt like that, anyway) but half-way through a long drive home I realised I could stop saying to people ‘dwi’n siarad Cymraeg ond ddim yn dda iawn’ and just say ‘dwi’n siarad Cymraeg’. Which felt amazing! :grin:


Kindly demanding voice of Southern course which pushes you on and on through the lessons and inbetween the lines says “Go on! Don’t stop now!” … Although my “stubbornity” was big and I was on the edge to quit learning for quite many times, there was always that voice because of who I returned and got on the track again.

Great bootcamp organizer/leader one simply can’t do anything else but admire him, his passion for language, how he deals with all things comming his way being good or bad, his calm attitude and very good judgement of the people in the way of leading/hosting bootcamps. He can go very well with us - adults as well as with kids. I had a priviledge to meet Iestyn in person being in Tresaith on my first ever bootcamp, which was one enormous priviledge for me to be there - lifelasting great experience.

And (you all forgot it) what a performer he is! A story reader (teller) who’d easily find a job in one of those studios recording kids’ (or whatever) audio books. He doesn’t read/tell the story, he performs it with all voice changing, singing if story goes that direction or mime if neccessary … Hearing him reading a Fairy-tale I became a kid for that short while again eagerly listening (and recording - hehe). :slight_smile:

And oposite … this only shows what great true friends you both are to each other. You wouldn’t be what you are without each-other. This is meant to be and this is the most wonderful friendship which will last and SSiW with that one way or another.

Oh, and yes … Iestyn has a great voice …

(I hope you don’t mind I have put this video here. Everyone of this community has to hear this great voice.
Oh, and for all those who wonder … the one and only @elkiedeadman is the one who says some words before Iestyn’s singing)

Diolch am popeth Iestyn. You’re one of my inspirations over and over again as is Cat and your two great girls (boys I didn’t have the priviledge to meet). I can not express my gratitude enough for what has been done for me.

Diolch yn fawr iawn ac pob lwc ar gyfer y dyfodol.


I have not actually met Iestyn, but I have been a fly on the wall while doing the audio processing of the raw recordings for Level 1 and 2. I’ve always enjoyed his sense of humour, evident in the witty commentary occasionally interjected between lines, and the very amusing sound effects that he makes when he flubs a line :wink:

But most importantly, ahem. After seeing some video of a past annual party, I was inspired by Iestyn to sing Calon Lan at our local annual Noson Lawen - to the tune of the Star Wars theme. To quote a fellow in the front row afterwards: “Wow - that actually worked!”


O, ja. We actually did it too. And yes, it worked! :slight_smile:


What a great topic:) We were just talking with Margaret about how improtant our first teachers are for us, and I consider Iestyn, though I have never seen him, as my first Welsh teacher:) His wonderful voice, sense of humour and supportive attitude towards us learners made learning Welsh so much fun at the very beginning, that I think a lot of my love for the language comes from those times:) And the pieces of advice Iestyn gave on the forum helped me immensely with my biggest problem - listening comprehension. So, diolch yn fawr iawn, without SSIW and Iestyn Welsh wouldn’t be such a big and beautiful part of my life - that’s certain:)


I won’t say anything about Iestyn’s unwavering support for everything Welsh because it’s all been said already in this thread and elsewhere but what I will say is that I don’t think I would have started to learn Welsh when I did if I hadn’t have spoken to him in the Eisteddfod in Wrexham back in 2011. He spoke with great passion about the language, why I should learn it and about the SSiW method and bigging up his southern version of the course. Despite what he said, however, I started to learn real Welsh off Aran instead. :joy::wink:

A well deserved inaugural Seren yr Wythnos. Da iawn ti.


We (including “Iestyrotti”) discovered at the Mag 7 reunion in Lland’od that the choral theme from the last movement of Beethoven’s 9th symphony “The European Anthem” works very well - try it. :astonished::smile:


Thank you so much for sharing that, Tatjana - it’s always lovely to see clips from Bootcamps - was that the church at Mwnt? And yes, he certainly has got an excellent voice, hasn’t he? :star: :star2:

1 Like

No, I think no. However, to be honest, we visited so many churches and I’ve lost the track of where we did some things. I think it was this one:


No, it definately was this one for sure. :slight_smile: Prety acustic, really.

Ooo, yes in deed. We’ve had a priviledge of hearing @Iestyn and @catdafydd singing together. WOW! But I’m still waiting for @AnthonyCusack - @Iestyn duo to be recorded at some point. Two strong voices together both of great quality! So … what about putting challenge infront of you two for this years July bootcamp! :slight_smile:

Sorry for my off topic, Iestyn, but I was inspired by you again! :slight_smile: and @aran lead me into (this offtopic) temptation :smile:


I would like to confirm the comments made so far. Thank you, Iestyn for your input and guidance. Although we haven’t met in person, I feel that you have made me so welcome in this community. I’m sure that your friendly approach has been a significant part in my several ongoing steps towards gaining confidence in the language.


To reinforce the bootcamp comments on here - BOOTCAMP!

I felt unbelievably overwhelmed driving home from bootcamp last year. Iestyn so patiently sat and had conversations with me about Brexit, the Welsh language, history…conversations with complexities I never thought I’d be able to have in Welsh.

Iestyn was also one of the first people to say that I had the ability, all be it a big rough round the edges, to sing. This has inspired me to take lessons (which I’m only just starting next week).

I’d had a terrible experience trying to learn French. Iestyn has been a massive part in helping me believe in myself to learn a language. Since that I’ve felt much more confident in lots of areas of my life.

A heartfelt thank you doesn’t feel like enough to say.

I’m really looking forward to another week in Tresaith with Iestyn!


YES! THIS! :slight_smile:


I’m afraid, doing the Northern course and not having been to a bwtcamp, I don’t really know Iestyn (my loss, dw i’n siwr); but I have to say that the clip of him singing that @tatjana posted was LOVELY! What a beautiful voice!!!