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Welsh learner of the year finalists announced

12 Jun 2023 3 minute read
The four Welsh Learner of the Year finalists, Alison Cairns, Roland Davies, Tom Trevarthen and Manuela Niemetscheck

The four finalists have been announced for this years’ Welsh Learner of the Year competition organised by the National Eisteddfod and the National Centre for Learning Welsh

Now in its 40th year, the final four has been whittled down from the 30 learners who were initially interviewed, the highest number ever.

Alison Cairns from Llannerchymedd, Roland Davies from Llanidloes, Manuela Niemetscheck from Bethesda and Tom Trevarthen from Aberystwyth were selected by semi-final judges Liz Saville Roberts, Geraint Wilson Price and Hannah Thomas.

Three of the four contestants who have made it through to the final originate from outside of Wales.


Originally from Scotland, Alison Cairns now lives in Anglesey. She lives her life in Welsh and has seven children.

She started learning Welsh by listening to BBC Radio Cymru, watching S4C and reading her daughter’s books.  She now uses Welsh confidently every day, without ever having had a formal Welsh lesson.

Welsh is the language of the family, and Alison, who works in the care sector, realises how important using Welsh can be when dealing with patients.

Roland Davies from Llanidloes, started learning Welsh after meeting his wife, Fflur, and realising how important the language is to her and her family. He attended Welsh lessons, spent a week at Nant Gwrtheyrn, and studied Duolingo and Say Something in Welsh early every morning before going to work.

Roland and Fflur have three young children, and Welsh is the family language.

He performs with Welsh language theatre company, Cwmni Theatr Maldwyn, and has just finished touring Wales playing one of the main roles in the show ‘Y Mab Darogan’.

Originally from Canada, Manuela Niemetscheck lives in Bethesda with her family and works as an Art Psychotherapist at Ysbyty Gwynedd.

Manuela speaks five languages and learned Welsh through Wlpan and at Nant Gwrtheyrn. She was inspired to learn the language not only because of her family and her community, but also because she believes that using Welsh in mental health services is extremely important, and her contribution to providing Welsh services specifically in the Hergest Unit is huge.

Like so many people, Tom Trevarthen came to Wales to study at university. He fell in love with Aberystwyth and decided to stay. After following a PGCE course, he got a job at Ysgol Henry Richard, Tregaron, and set about learning Welsh.

He attended weekly online lessons during lockdown, before joining the intensive course last summer.

He is studying for a postgraduate degree at Aberystwyth University, researching education in Wales. He uses Welsh every day, when socialising, working and studying, and the language he uses with friends has now changed from English to Welsh

The winner of this year’s competition will be announced on the Pafiliwn Mawr stage on Wednesday 9 August, and will receive the Dysgwr y Flwyddyn Trophy and £300, donated by Pwllheli Town Council.

The other three finalists will receive £100, again donated by Pwllheli Town Council.

For more information on the Llŷn and Eifionydd National Eisteddfod, visit, and for more on the National Centre for Learning Welsh and to find a Welsh course which works for you, click on

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Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
10 months ago

Ardderchog, da iawn 🙂

10 months ago

I’m full of admiration for these people. It’s also very pleasing that every year the final four always seems to include at least one person whose roots lie outside Wales. Llongyfarchiadau i chi gyd.

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