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Meet our Welsh Language Champions on today's (Thursday 15th October) Shwmae Day!

Thursday 15th October

Today, Thursday 15th October 2020, is Diwrnod Shwmae Day, where we encourage everyone to start their conversations with 'Shwmae' and 'Give Welsh a go'. Our patients are at the heart of everything we do, so for this year's Shwmae day, we are focusing on the importance of Welsh Language services for our patients.

Would you like to know why using Welsh is so important? Meet our Welsh Language Champions from across the Health Board! Read their profiles below to learn more about their job roles, their backgrounds, and why using the Welsh Language is so important to them.

Don't forget to say Shwmae to our Champions if you ever see them around our sites! #GiveItAGo



Name: Abigail James 
Job Role: Occupational Therapist


I'm originally from Pontypool but currently live in Newport.


What Welsh means to me

The language is important to me because I don't get the opportunity to use Welsh very often and I don't want to lose the language as I get older. I currently work with people who have had a stroke, and sometimes some of them can speak Welsh and I feel it's important for them to have the opportunity to discuss in their first language so that they can express themselves as easily as possible. It makes the experience much more comfortable and helps to build better relationships between patients and the people who are supporting them to get better.

Name: Catrin Tomos 
Job Role: Community Dentist

Originally from Bangor, I've now lived in Cardiff for almost two years. My partner and I are members of the Cardiff Folk Dance Company and enjoy dancing, making music and wearing traditional costumes on special occasions and at festivals- we feel famous when members of the public ask to be photographed with us in our uniform!


What Welsh means to me

I am very fortunate to have had the privilege of working in a variety of settings as a Dentist- such as Newcastle, Germany, Ghana and New Zealand. What I learned in each of these places is the importance of being able to communicate effectively. It's so much easier to express yourself to a stranger when you're using comfortable language and terms, especially if you're in pain or worried. This is true on both sides - if you are a patient receiving treatment or a member of staff who wants to discuss a sensitive topic with a colleague or supervisor.

I would love it if I could have a short informal conversation in Welsh over a cuppa with a colleague on a daily basis. Shwmae Sumae Day is great for raising awareness and confidence to learn a few new words in Welsh, and with one word at a time, that will soon become a range of vocabulary!


Name: Claire Jordan
Job Role: Lead Nurse for Patient Engagement and Education in the Person Centred Care Team



I moved to Wales over 30 years ago not long after I qualified, and have lived and worked here ever since. I feel almost Welsh – except when Wales and England are playing of course!!


What Welsh means to me

Appreciating the Welsh language is so important in my role because although I do not speak it, I am very aware of how our patients (especially our more vulnerable patients) will benefit from it if is the language that they need to communicate in. I have been trying to learn little bits of Welsh and I am confident in using the Active Offer.

So many of our patients are experiencing loneliness at the moment, even more so because they have limited access to visitors, so for someone to not be able to communicate in their first language the situation is made even worse.

I think Diwrnod Shwmae is a great idea – let’s all embrace an important aspect of the Welsh Culture and who knows you may realise that someone would like to speak Welsh as a result and really make a difference to someone’s experience whilst in our care.

Name: Dr Non Morris 
Job Role: Consultant Anaesthetist
Originally from St Claires near Carmarthen, after a long stint in college and then working in London, I returned to Wales, and have now settled with my husband and children in the Llantrisant area.
What Welsh means to me

I'm most comfortable speaking Welsh. Having grown up in a Welsh speaking home, attending Welsh-medium schools and now raising my own children through the medium of Welsh, it is perfectly natural for me to speak Welsh, and it's nice to be able to extend this to the workplace. And although Aneurin Bevan University Health Board's catchment area is mainly English speakers, Welsh-medium schools are thriving in the area and it's surprising how many of my colleagues can speak some Welsh though they may not be too confident.

For this reason, Shwmae Sumae Day provides a unique opportunity for learners and people who have lost some of their Welsh to try a conversation without it feeling intrusive, and to reinforce the idea that using and speaking Welsh is far more important than grammar or accuracy.


Name: Grace Chugg 
Job Role: Speech and Language Therapist

I was born in Caerphilly and then moved to Cardiff as a child. I was very lucky to be taught entirely in Welsh, and am fortunate to be able to support people with Speech, Language and Communication needs through the medium of Welsh.

What Welsh means to me

Welsh is important to me because I am proud to be Welsh. I support people when they are scared and feel lost after having a stroke, and seeing their faces light up when I talk to them in their first language is the reason I believe speaking Welsh in the workplace is so important.

Shwmae Day is important to me because it highlights the fact that everyone should give Welsh a go. We are so lucky to have a beautiful language here in Wales. It doesn't matter what level you are at, give it a go!


Name: Nick Cutcliffe
Job Role: Physiotherapy Team Lead, Blaenau Gwent Community Resource Team



I have worked for Aneurinn Bevan University Health Board for about 4 years now and am currently a Physio team lead working with the Community Resource Team in Blaenau Gwent. We work across a wide range of settings, usually visiting patients in their own homes; communicating with them in their language of choice in their own homes seems a natural and respectful way of conducting yourself. 

What Welsh means to me

Even if it still remains for me just a few words, greetings and basic communication, I find speaking Welsh helps create an instant connection with certain patients and families. I am very proud of my Welsh Heritage and the history of the country, and feel it is something that we should all strive to protect and promote. I hope the next course I undertake will help consolidate some of my previous learning and develop my conversation skills further. Succeeding with language and communicating with someone in their language of choice is personally very rewarding.

Name: Ruth Evans 
Job Role: Senior Organisational Development Manager and Welsh Language Lead
I am originally from the Gwendraeth Valley in Carmarthenshire but now live in Cardiff. I was brought up and educated in Welsh, as were my children, who are now in their twenties; one a Zoologist and the other a Mechanical Engineer.
What Welsh means to me

Welsh is my first language and the language I feel most comfortable speaking, so it's nice and natural for me to speak to colleagues in Welsh. It's hard to believe, but it can be a challenge to speak English with people who you are accustomed to speaking Welsh to. Also, I think the more Welsh we hear in the workplace, the more impact it will have on our work culture and a positive patient experience.

It's nice to be able to hear my mother tongue and hear my colleagues addressing me in my natural language. Shwmae Day gives me great pleasure and a chance to remind my colleagues that Welsh is one of the oldest languages in Europe. Hearing my colleagues 'giving Welsh a go' excites me and it really doesn't matter how big or small their contribution is; as St David said "Do the small things".

Name: Sioned Quirke 
Job Role: Obesity Service Manager

I grew up in Caernarfon in North Wales, so coming to Cardiff in 2000 for University was a bit of a shock! I graduated in 2014 with a BSc (Hons) in Dietetics and my first job was at Morriston Hospital. I moved to Cwm Taf Health Board as a Primary Care Dietitian in 2016, and after that, I came to ABUHB to set up the Obesity Service. I have been very lucky to work with S4C for 3 years on the FFIT Cymru program, as a Dietitian helping 5 leaders transform their lives to become healthier.

What Welsh means to me

I enjoy speaking Welsh, especially as I am a 'gog' in the South! Speaking and using Welsh is extremely important in the workplace because it is easy, convenient and enables us to maintain more formal Welsh speaking skills.

Any opportunity to promote Welsh is important and so many Workplaces support Shwmae Day, it's important for us to get involved!