Aberystwyth University Gwobrau Gŵyl Dewi Aber Award winners announced
16 October 2020
Aberystwyth University has honoured individuals for their contribution to the Welsh language.
Following the postponement of the event in March as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Gwobrau Gŵyl Dewi Aber Award winners are Sarah Whitehead, Dafydd Rhys, Fiona Reynolds, Heledd Davies and Rhian Williams after they were nominated by the University's staff and students.
As learners and first language Welsh speakers, students and staff, the five winners have been selected for the following awards:
- Exceptional Learner (Staff) – Sarah Whitehead
- Promoting Welsh in the Workplace – Dafydd Rhys and Fiona Reynolds
- Welsh Medium Study – Heledd Davies
- Welsh Language Champion (Student) – Rhian Williams
Each of the winners will receive a personal ‘Englyn’ from Eurig Salisbury, Poet and Lecturer in Creative Writing, Department of Welsh and Celtic Studies at the University.
Congratulating the winners, Dr Rhodri Llwyd Morgan, Director of Welsh Language and External Engagement, said: "I would like to congratulate all those who have won and to those who have received special recognition for their efforts to promote the Welsh language. It is a real pleasure to recognise and celebrate everyone's special contribution, and we can all be inspired to make similar efforts to embrace the Welsh language and encourage and support its use."
Sarah Whitehead (Exceptional Learner): Originally from Staffordshire, Sarah moved to Aberystwyth as a student in the 90s and heard Welsh for the first time during freshers week. After graduating, she started working at the University and began learning Welsh and sat a GCSE exam. Now Deputy Registrar, Academic Registry – Admissions at the University, following a break, she started attending Welsh lessons and enrolled on a Working Welsh course for University staff. Her husband, Mark, has now started to learn Welsh and they are keen to change the language at home for their fluent Welsh-speaking children.
Dafydd Rhys and Fiona Reynolds (Promoting Welsh in the Workplace): Dafydd has been Director of Aberystwyth Arts Centre since 2017. Originally from Llanelli, he is eager to make a contribution to help reach the goal of a million Welsh speakers. Dafydd and his team want the Arts Centre to reflect the community and have been developing the use of Welsh and increasing the number of Welsh medium events. He is very aware that some have a lack of confidence in their Welsh and is keen to develop the use of Welsh as a language at work and leisure but that it needs to be done in a positive, fun and supportive way.
He wins the award jointly with Fiona Reynolds. Originally from Barmouth, Fiona is from a non-Welsh speaking background. She started learning Welsh in year 6 at Primary School before moving to Secondary School and completing a GCSE Welsh second language examination. Moving to England at the age of 25, she did not have the opportunity to speak Welsh until returning to Wales in 2010. Fiona started working as a Senior Catering Supervisor at the Arts Centre in 2016 and began attending a Welsh in the workplace course with a view to improving her Welsh to be able to chat with family members, with customers and visitors visiting the Centre. She is very proud to be Welsh and feels that it’s important to speak the language with friends and colleagues and in the local community.
Heledd Davies (Welsh Medium Study): Heledd is a student in the Department of Law and Criminology studying Criminology and Applied Psychology. Originally from Parc, Bala, Heledd completed her Primary and Secondary education in Welsh. She decided to study through the medium of Welsh at Aberystwyth University because Welsh is her first language. She also felt more confident and comfortable to study through the medium of Welsh. The Welsh language is crucially important to Heledd and she is keen to have a career assisting and supporting others in Welsh.
Rhian Williams (Welsh Language Champion): Originally from a bilingual home near Welshpool, Rhian has just completed her degree course studying Geography. She decided to attend the University in Aberystwyth to have the opportunity to live in a Welsh area and study through the medium of Welsh. As well as winning a Coleg Cymraeg Incentive Scholarship, the various opportunities she has undertaken in Welsh have led to her being elected as an ambassador for the University, the Department and the Royal Geographical Society including visiting schools to promote Geography. On completion of a teacher training course in Cardiff, Rhian is keen to pursue a teaching career in Wales.
In addition to the above award winners, the adjudicating panel presented University Staff Kate Wright, Alice Farnworth, Scott Tompsett, Jaya Mukhopadhyay, Jackie Sayce, Joe Smith and Rachel Rees with a Certificate of Special Recognition for their commitment to the Welsh language.