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Couple takeover local chippie after they find it closed on a Bank Holiday weekend

Aled and Nia Roberts at Sglods

A Ceredigion couple who were frustrated when their local chippie was closed over a Bank Holiday weekend found the perfect answer – they took over the business.

Aled and Nia Roberts jumped into action when the chip shop in Llanon, between Aberystwyth and Aberaeron, was put on the market just days later and they were able to lease the property.

Eighteen months later they have built up trade based on good, locally sourced food as well as their extensive promotion of the Welsh language and displaying local history and culture prominently in their front windows.

Customers have written glowing reviews of their visit to Sglods (Welsh for chips) on social media and online review websites.

Their fans include European rally champion and friend Chris Ingram who loves their fish and chips and volunteered to help them out one busy evening.

Now Aled and Nia have been shortlisted for an award at the Gwobrau Mwyaf Cymraeg yn y Byd (Most Welsh in the World Awards) organised as part of the Bwrlwm ARFOR scheme that’s run by Anglesey-based consultancy firm Lafan.

The aim of the competition is to celebrate all things Welsh in business across the four counties with the highest percentage of Welsh speakers, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire, Gwynedd and Anglesey.

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Aberystwyth and the couple are thrilled to have been shortlisted in the category for the Most Welsh Brand.

Aled, 50, said: “We found out about being shortlisting when the online voting was launched. We’re delighted and very excited by it.

“Welsh is an important part of our business because Welsh is very much in use in this area. From the signs outside and the menu boards inside to our social media pages we make extensive use of the language and are proud to do so.”

Aled said the opportunity for him and Nia to take over the chip shop was rather unusual.

“It was August 2022 and we had been on holiday with our two children getting back on the Bank Holiday Saturday and we thought we’d get some chips from the chip shop which is opposite our house for supper.

“But it was closed and we tongue in cheek said that if the business was ever to become available we’d give it a try. .

“I thought no more of it but just days later a “Business Opportunity” sign went up. It was as if it was meant to be,” he said.

After their successful bid, the couple re-branded the business, re-named it as Sglods and applied a fresh coat of paint to the exterior.

“Neither of us had any experience in the catering industry and we were quite literally thrown in at the deep end.

“We looked very carefully at what we were offering and have made every effort to source what we sell locally or from Wales.

“Unfortunately we can’t obtain our fish from Wales, the cod comes from Iceland but the potatoes naturally come from Pembrokeshire. We have a very good supplier who also supplies their potatoes to many supermarkets.

“Our special pie of the week is popular and is supplied from a company based in Cross Hands near Llanelli, and our sausages are made in Welshpool” he said.

The couple are just as keen to promote the local area and with the shop having two large windows facing the busy A487 he decided to display artefacts and images explaining the history of the village and events in  the surrounding area.

Aled added: “With the help of our close friend Sian, who is the creative one, we try to change the theme every month. When we had the ploughing competition in the village I found an old plough and some photos and put them in the window. At Easter we had a picture of a chicken and I’d hidden some Easter eggs around the village with vouchers for the shop in them.

“We have a picture of the month of local people, buildings or landscape which invariably starts a debate and a Welsh saying of the month.

“The displays have become popular and we have people coming just to see them and some organisations have asked if they can create a display to promote their work or forthcoming events.”

For many years Aled has run Ceir Ardwyn Cars, a motor dealership based in the village while Nia worked for Cyngor Sir Ceredigion Council.

He has a keen interest in motor sports and was a navigator in motor rallying for many years.

“A few weeks ago Chris Ingram and his father John who are friends of the family came to stay and  do some testing ahead of a British Rally Championship round.

“Chris was the first British driver to become FIA European Rally Champion in over 50 years and raved about our fish and chips, he even helped us out one busy night and did a shift in the shop.

“We have photos of him working behind the counter on our social media,” he said.

The purpose of the competition is to encourage businesses to use Welsh to boost their bottom line – and put a smile on people’s faces at the same time.

It certainly seems to have succeeded with dozens of entries finally whittled down to 30 finalists in seven different categories.

A spokesperson for ARFOR said: “Our aim is to create a buzz around the use of Welsh in a business or commercial environment and how it can help businesses thrive and provide careers for our young people so they don’t feel they have to move away.

“We have received dozens of nominations from a variety of businesses across the four counties of Ynys Môn, Gwynedd, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire and those shortlisted for an award are those the judges feel are doing their utmost to use and promote the Welsh language on their premises, their marketing and their social media channels.

“We have 30 finalists and we are conducting a public vote on social media.

“We wish all of them the very best of luck at the forthcoming award ceremony and hope the other nominees continue their good work in using and promoting our language.”

The Bwrlwm ARFOR campaign is part of the ARFOR Two scheme that was launched in 2022 in succession to the 2019 ARFOR programme to continue to strengthen and promote the economic resilience of the Welsh language in the four counties.

ARFOR Two is intended to provide economic support to communities that are strongholds of the Welsh language, increase opportunities to see and use the Welsh language on a daily basis and help young people under the age of 35 to stay in or return to their communities.