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Welsh learner of the year to be announced in special National Eisteddfod ceremony

08 Aug 2023 3 minute read
The winner of the Learner of the Year award will be announced at the National Eisteddfod on Wednesday.

The Welsh Learner of the Year will be announced at the National Eisteddfod in a special ceremony on the main pavilion stage on Wednesday.

The competition, which celebrates its fortieth birthday this year, is organised by the National Eisteddfod and the National Centre for Learning Welsh.

Eisteddfod organisers said 30 individuals were interviewed this year – the highest number ever – with learners from Wales and beyond nominated, and after plenty of discussions, the judges decided on their top four.

They are Alison Cairns from Llannerchymedd, Anglesey; Roland Davies from Llanidloes; Manuela Niemetscheck from Bethesda and Tom Trevarthen from Aberystwyth.

The semi-final judges, Liz Saville Roberts, Geraint Wilson Price and Hannah Thomas, were in full agreement that the standard was very high again this year.

It would have been easy to choose nine finalists, but they had to whittle it down to the final four.

Alison Cairns is originally from Scotland but 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. She enjoys working with horses and kickboxing and is an experienced shearer who has won a number of awards over the years.

The Learner of the Year finalists.


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’.

Manuela Niemetscheck is originally from Canada but 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 our 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.

Manuela lives her life in Welsh and is passionate about the language.


Like so many people, Tom Trevarthen came to Wales to study at university. He fell in love with Aberystwyth and decided to stay.

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 uses Welsh every day, when socialising, working and studying, and the language he uses with friends has now changed from English to Welsh.

He is extremely supportive of other learners and encourages them in every way.

The winner 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.

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