THE winner of the 2019 Pembrokeshire Welsh Learner of the year is Jennie Welton.

Jennie is a paediatric speech and language therapist who moved to north Pembrokeshire for work purposes in 2010.

Four years later Jennie, who is originally from Wiltshire, enrolled on a beginner's course with Learn Welsh Pembrokeshire, run by Pembrokeshire County Council on behalf of the National Centre for Learning Welsh.

Jennie has now completed four courses and feels confident speaking the language with the children under her care. She says that learning Welsh has had a positive effect on her work.

"I frequently use the language at work and can communicate with both my patients and colleagues in Welsh," she said.

"Learning the language was particularly important to me as I work in a field which is all about talking and communication."

Jennie's two daughters, aged five and eight, attend Welsh-medium school Ysgol Eglwyswrw. Being able to help them was also a big factor in Jennie's decision to learn Welsh.

"I wanted to be able to support my daughters as they grow up in a predominantly Welsh-speaking environment. It's now so rewarding for me, considering I'd lived in England all my life and had never spoken Welsh before moving here."

Jennie has embraced a range of Welsh-language activities and enjoys watching Welsh language programmes on S4C and reading Welsh books.

"I've really immersed myself into Welsh-medium literature," she says. "It's so rewarding to be able to read something in a language that was completely alien to me just a few years ago."

Jennie has also taken part in the ‘Siarad’ scheme which pairs Welsh speakers with learners so that they can practise speaking in an informal environment.

"I’m so grateful for the help and support of my ‘Siarad’ partner Eluned Jones who nominated me for the Welsh Learner of the Year award,” added Jennie.

“We have had a great time chatting in Welsh and I feel like a true part of my local community and proud to say that I'm a Welsh speaker."

With a new term of Welsh courses beginning at the end of September, Jennie is full of praise for the courses and her tutors:

"My tutors have been so enthusiastic and it's been great to learn alongside like-minded, committed people. The classes are motivating and fit easily into my busy schedule. It's such an interesting language to learn and I'd recommend it to anyone.”

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