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Welsh Learner of the Year announced

David Thomas (Image: Eisteddfod Genedlaethol)

David Thomas from Talog, Sir Gâr has been announced as this year's Welsh Learner of the Year. He was honoured today at a ceremony on BBC Radio Cymru.

Four "outstanding" learners were shortlisted this year, David Thomas, Gosia Rutecka, Rob Lisle and Jo Heyde. The judges said that choosing just one winner "proved to be an extremely difficult decision".

Mr Thomas was chosen as this year’s winner, after "lengthy and detailed discussions."

The judges this year were Shirley Williams, Hannah Thomas, and Hanna Hopwood Griffiths.

David Thomas is originally from Caerdydd, and has described himself as one of the "lost generation" who were denied the opportunity to learn Welsh.

After leaving Cymru to go to university, he lived in England for years, but "always wanted to move back to Wales and learn Welsh". With husband Anthony—originally from Sir Gâr— they both returned and bought a smallholding in the Caerfyrddin area.

In 2018, David and Anthony decided to set up a distillery on their farm— establishing the Jin Talog brand.

He says learning Welsh has "changed his life" and he now uses it every day with the language playing an important role in the business.

Speaking on behalf of the judges, Hannah Thomas said: “Rob, Gosia, David and Jo are charismatic people, passionate about the Welsh language and already making an invaluable contribution to our language and culture - thank you very much to them for their enthusiasm and hard work.

“We’re confident that the four will play a leading role in their communities and beyond, being great ambassadors for the Welsh language.

“We believe that many will identify with David's experience. Learning Welsh has been a very positive experience for him, and he now speaks the language naturally and uses it in every aspect of his life in Carmarthenshire.

“David is passionate about the opportunities the Welsh language gives you and the ability of the language, as a practical skill, to transform lives. Learning the language, David has researched his family tree and discovered that his ancestors spoke Welsh - he feels, therefore, that he has regained his legacy.

“The Welsh language is all around us, and according to David, there is no secret to learning - with effort and time, it’s possible for everyone. He is a warm, witty person and will be an excellent ambassador.”

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