David Thomas, 49, has learnt Welsh to support his bilingual business in Talog, north west Carmarthenshire.
Originally from Cardiff, David lived in London for almost 30 years before returning to Wales with his husband, Anthony, to run Jin Talog gin distillery.
David didn’t have an opportunity to learn Welsh at school, but enjoyed Welsh language ‘taster’ sessions in London and a few online courses, and upon his return to Wales, was determined to pick up the language.
David enrolled on a Welsh course with Learn Welsh Carmarthenshire, run by Carmarthenshire County Council on behalf of the National Centre for Learning Welsh, and has thoroughly enjoyed the experience of learning.
“Since joining my Welsh course, I’ve made quick progress, had a great time along the way and been lucky enough to make lifelong friends,” he explains.
David is full of praise for his tutors and fellow learners, and plans on enrolling on a further course in September. Looking further down the line, he is hoping to complete a degree in Welsh at some point.
David says, “My group is like a family, the tutors included. They always go the extra mile and provide varied resources so you can really get the most out of the course. I owe much of my love for the language to them.”
David is able to use his new language skills in his business, Jin Talog, which was launched with a bilingual brand identity.
“Our website, social media and product branding are bilingual. Some of our products get delivered to England, which is great – it both raises interest in the language and proves to all that it’s a living language that needs to be protected.”
David is also delighted to be able to use Welsh out and about in his local community. He explains, “When I moved to a Welsh-speaking area, I wanted to feel more in touch with my community and be able to speak Welsh. Carmarthenshire is so different to life in London, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I feel at home, am extremely happy and enjoy speaking Welsh as often as I do.”
David is thrilled with the support he’s had in his local community and adds, “Nobody corrected my Welsh or spoke to me in English instead. People were encouraging, supportive and genuinely pleased I was making an effort. Being able to speak Welsh has been transformational in both my work life and personal life. The missing piece has been found, and I can now access a new world that’s always been there. The Welsh language is a part of me now and I love it.”
With Welsh courses across the area due to start in September, David’s advice to anyone thinking about learning Welsh is to give it a go, “The Welsh language is open to everybody, no matter what. The more you speak it, the easier it get gets.”