Although I’m born and bred the other side of the border – and very proud that I’m English by the way – nevertheless I feel equally blessed that I also have Welsh blood flowing through my veins. With my English roots in the counties of Shropshire and Staffordshire, especially in the former as it’s a border county, there are strong Welsh connections.
In my case it’s both my maternal and paternal lines that connect me with Wales. I’ve always had a love for the nation right from when I was a child, back in the 1960s, as every holiday saw us head for Rhyl and the annual family vacation. The Denbighshire town was very different then to what it is now.
A thriving seaside resort, the beaches were packed like Spain is these days and if you didn’t book in advance, especially during the industrial fortnight, you would be disappointed.
In recent years my connection has moved to another level as I’ve become involved with The New Saints. Although the stadium is just in Shropshire (if you’re not aware), due to relocation a few years back, nevertheless the club is thoroughly Welsh. The current Welsh Premier League champions, it really means a lot to me on a personal level to be working in football in Wales.
A couple or so years back I decided to learn Welsh. I’ve been moving on steadily and see it all as a marathon rather than a sprint. The big thing with any language is getting the opportunity to practice both speaking and writing and that’s something I can do weekly. If you notice the occasional bi-lingual posts on our social media accounts, now you know where they come from.
In addition, when I went to college some years ago to learn French and then Dutch there was no internet. Nowadays, whatever the language there is plenty of material out there to help you on your way. I’m a regular viewer of Wales’ national TV channel, S4C, especially the children’s programmes as they are easier to follow.
This year though, I’ve set the personal target of going from a Welsh learner, as I describe myself now, to a Welsh speaker, albeit a basic one. As far as the Welsh language is concerned, the heading, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, is the opening line of the national anthem, Land Of My Fathers. Indeed it is and it’s something I’m very proud of.
Rev’s Ramblings is a weekly blog, published every Monday, following my adventures with the Welsh champions from a personal perspective. Check out more here.