Aberystwyth University has honoured individuals for their contribution to the Welsh language.

The winners of the Aberystwyth University Welsh Language Awards for 2023 were announced at an awards ceremony earlier this month, after they were nominated by staff and students.

As learners and first-language Welsh speakers, students and staff, five winners were awarded for the following categories:

• Exceptional Learner (Staff) – Kate Barber and Dr Martine Garland

• Promoting Welsh in the Workplace – Abigail Crook

• Studying through the medium of Welsh – Ffion King

• Welsh Language Champion (Student) – Cai Phillips

Professor Elizabeth Treasure was also awarded the Panel’s Special Award for her key support to the Welsh language during her term as Vice-Chancellor at the University.

The winners received a personal englyn by Professor Mererid Hopwood, Dr Eurig Salisbury, from the Department of Welsh and Celtic Studies or Dr Hywel Griffiths, from the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences.

Congratulating the winners, Dr Rhodri Llwyd Morgan, Director of Welsh Language and External Engagement, said: “It is a privilege once again to recognise and celebrate the contribution made by individuals who have shone through in promoting the Welsh language at the University. It was also a special honour to recognise the significant achievements of the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Elizabeth Treasure, ahead of her retirement. The contribution made by the winners and those recognised in this year’s Awards underlines the positive influence that individuals can have to inspire their fellow students and co-workers”.

The Winners

Kate Barber (Exceptional Learner): Born in Nottingham and raised in Herefordshire, Kate moved to Aberystwyth in 2021 to study a Master’s degree in Information and Library Studies. Whilst studying the course she started learning Welsh, initially with ‘Duo Lingo’, before enrolling on an Entry level Welsh course. Two years later, Kate is working as a Service Desk Assistant at the Hugh Owen Library at the University. The post is a Welsh medium role and Kate enjoys communicating confidently in Welsh with students, staff and visitors to the Library. She also enjoys socialising in Welsh within the local community.

Martine Garland (Exceptional Learner): Originally from London, Martine moved to Aberystwyth following her appointment as a lecturer in the Business School at Aberystwyth University in 2020. As she was moving to Wales, she felt it was very important to learn Welsh to be able to speak the language within the local community and so she decided to enrol on a Welsh Taster course. Martine has continued to learn Welsh and currently attends several courses weekly including a Work Welsh course and a community course and has just returned after completing a course at Nant Gwrtheyrn language school. She can now converse more confidently in Welsh with colleagues, students and the local community.

Abigail Crook (Promoting Welsh in the Workplace): Abigail first came to Aberystwyth in 2009 to study a degree in Librarianship and had the opportunity to work at the University’s libraries at the time. Following a period of time away in north and south Wales, she returned to Aberystwyth in 2018 to study a Master’s degree in Translation. She subsequently worked in the Business School at the University before returning to work once again as a member of the Information Services team. Working as a member of the customer service team, she provides, develops and promotes the University’s library and IT services. Welsh plays a very prominent role in all areas of her work. In her role, Abigail is keen to use Welsh creatively when compiling marketing material and text, to ensure that the language is clear and comprehensive when creating information resources and when using it on a daily basis with service users and colleagues.

Ffion King (Studying through the medium of Welsh): Ffion is a student in the Department of Welsh and Celtic Studies. She was born in England and during her childhood lived in Papua New Guinea before her family returned to live in Gloucester when Ffion was 12 years old. While visiting friends in Wales, Ffion bought a copy of the Mabinogion at Caernarfon Castle which sparked a particular interest in Celtic literature. Ffion is passionate about Welsh and started learning the language on her own six months before attending the University in September 2021. Ffion is queer and autistic, and feels that learning the language has opened a door to its culture and a new world in Welsh.

Cai Phillips (Welsh Language Champion): Cai is currently studying a joint honours degree in International Relations and the Media. He grew up on a dairy farm in Blaenycoed, Carmarthenshire and attended the local primary school and Bro Myrddin School. Welsh is very important to Cai and he chose to come to Aberystwyth University so that he could study through the medium of Welsh and get the opportunity to live in a Welsh community whilst studying. During his time as a student at Aberystwyth University, he has been very active in promoting the Welsh language as the Welsh Officer of Aberhike’ hiking club as well as assisting UMCA with the Welsh chat sessions every week. After completing his course, Cai would like to pursue a career in journalism or politics.

Professor Elizabeth Treasure (The Panel Special Award): Elizabeth Treasure joined Aberystwyth University as Vice-Chancellor in April 2017. During her term as Vice-Chancellor at Aberystwyth University, she has learnt Welsh and has been at the forefront in encouraging the development and use of the Welsh language and ensuring that it is a central part of the University’s Strategic Plan. This includes the development of new courses including the Veterinary Course and the Nursing Course that provide opportunity for students to study in Welsh. Elizabeth Treasure has also enabled a new generation of Welsh speaking students to reside at Neuadd Pantycelyn following its major refurbishment.

Certificate of Special Recognition

In addition to the above award winners, the adjudicating panel presented a Certificate of Special Recognition to students Gareth Tuen Griffiths, Department of Physics and Lowri Bebb, Department of Welsh and Celtic Studies, and to staff members Chris Stewart, Department of Theatre, Film & Television Studies, Colin Nosworthy, Communications and Public Affairs and Julie Roberts, Estates, Facilities and Residences, for their commitment to the Welsh language.