12 years ago at the 2011 Eisteddfod Genedlaethol in Wrecsam, Geraint met SSiW and SSiW met Geraint, an event that would change his life in more ways than he could have ever imagined. Though Geraint’s father was brought up as a Welsh speaker, his mother wasn’t. As is often the case in such situations, English became the predominant language of the home, and Geraint and his siblings grew up without Welsh.
In August 2011, with a toddler and an 8-year-old in tow, he and his wife Tracey fancied a day out, and because they’d heard interesting things about the Eisteddfod, off they went. Blown away by how much Welsh they heard and saw on the Maes, Geraint found himself deep in conversation with someone he’d never met about the merits of learning Welsh. He went home with an SSiW business card burning a hole in his pocket.
Once he started learning he couldn’t stop. Spurred on by effective learning and unexpected results, Welsh got under his skin, and Geraint’s identity and his perspective of his home country began to change. Most importantly of all, he began having conversations in Welsh with his father, which added, in Geraint’s words, ‘a new dimension and a shared passion’ to this precious relationship. Sadly Geraint’s father passed away in 2013, but he will be forever grateful for those Welsh conversations he had with his dad.
Welsh is now a natural part of Geraint’s daily life and he’s read more Welsh books than most first-language speakers we know. And his journey has changed our lives as well – he and Tracey have become two of Aran and my closest friends (it’s Catrin writing this!). They often visit, and we’ve had countless glorious nights with board games, wine and terrible Welsh jokes. We’ll always be grateful that Geraint, his family and his insane beard have become such a joyful part of our lives and the SSiW community.
Here’s Geraint’s perspective on why he thinks SaySomethinginWelsh works so well: