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Welsh toy company bounces back from Covid thanks to lockdown ‘hiraeth’

02 Mar 2021 5 minutes Read
Awena a Baron Walkden a’i theulu

*English follows the Welsh*

Mae cwmni teganau o Gymru wedi dweud eu bod wedi bownsio’n ôl o sgam ariannol a Covid-19 yn cau siopau diolch i ddogn pwerus o ‘hiraeth’ gan nad oedd yn gallu teithio i Gymru yn ystod y clo mawr.

Collodd Awena a Baron Walkden o Borthaethwy £18,000 i sgam hacio yn 2019, ac fe wnaethant wynebu anhawster dwbl cloi Covid a thrafferthion mewnforio Brexit yn 2020.

Ond dywedon nhw eu bod nhw wedi cael eu Nadolig mwyaf llwyddiannus erioed diolch i’r hyn maen nhw’n ei ddweud oedd pobl yn teimlo dogn dwys o ‘hiraeth’ am adref yn ystod y cyfnod cloi.

“Roedd Covid-19 yn niweidiol iawn i Si-lwli Cymru,” meddai Awena. “Gan fod y siopau wedi gorfod cau am bedwar mis, fe stopion ni gynhyrchu’r tegannau’n gyfan gwbwl.

“Prosiect yn ystod y nosweithiau ydi’r busnes. Roedd trïo jyglo gwaith llawn amser, addysgu o gartref, a gofalu am fabi ifanc yn ddigon. Roedd yn rhaid i ni roi stop dros dro ar y busnes.

“Ond ar ddiwedd 2020 mi gawson ni un o’r Nadoligau mwyaf llwyddiannus erioed.

“Dwi’n clywed gan lawer o bobol bod hiraeth, a hiraeth y cyfnod clo yn rhan bwysig o’u penderfyniad i brynu ein cynnyrch.

“A hiraeth am Gymru a’r Gymraeg hefyd. Bellach mae 15% o’n gwerthiant y tu allan i Gymru.”

‘Blaenllaw’

Sefydlodd Awena Walkden a’i gŵr o Borthaethwy gwmni Si-lwli Cymru “bron ar ddamwain” yn 2016, pan oedd eu merch yn cael trafferth “setlo i gysgu.”

“Roedd fy merch, Cadi, yn cael trafferth syrthio i gysgu, ac fe wnaethon ni ddyfeisio Seren Swynol, tegan sy’n canu hwiangerddi Cymraeg.

“Fe aethon ni ymlaen wedyn i ddyfeisio Draigi ar gyfer fy mab Mabon, sef draig goch sy’n canu caneuon cae rygbi; o Sosban Fach i Calon Lân!

“Doedden ni ddim wedi bwriadu i’r peth fynd ymhellach na’n pedair wal ni. Mi sefydlon ni gwmni ar ddamwain, bron!”

Mae’r cwmni wedi eu codi eu hunain yn ôl ar eu traed ar ôl colli £18,000 i sgam hacio yn 2019, anawsterau yn ymwneud â Brexit a mewnforio, a chyfnodau clo Covid-19. Dywed Awena Walkden bod y cwmni “yn mynd o nerth i nerth.

Mae tegannau Si-lwli yn boblogaidd iawn yn ystod y tymor rygbi hefyd!” meddai Awena.

Mae’r cwmni yn mynnu mai hyrwyddo’r Gymraeg yw nod y cwmni, yn hytrach na gwneud elw.

Ychwanegodd Awena Walkden: “Rydan ni’n helpu i gadw’r Gymraeg yn rhan naturiol o’r cartref yn ystod cyfnod o addysgu o gartref.

“Mae’n gwneud y Gymraeg yn rhan flaenllaw o fywyd bob-dydd teuluoedd. Mae’n cael ei chlywed.”

Sefydlwyd Si-lwli Cymru oherwydd anghenion y teulu, ond fe welai Awena bod diffyg teganau Cymraeg a Chymreig yn anfantais fawr i’r iaith.

“Mewn cartrefi ddwyieithog, mae gan y Saesneg fantais enfawr. Mae ’na adnoddau di-ben-draw ar gael yn yr iaith honno.

“Mae’n bwysig iawn i blant allu cysylltu gyda’u hiaith mewn ffordd hwylus, a’r ffordd orau o neud hynny yw drwy chwarae.”


Draigi the singing dragon

A Welsh toy company have said that they have bounced back from being scammed out of thousands of pounds and Covid-19 shutting shops thanks to a powerful dose of lockdown-related ‘hiraeth’.

Awena and Baron Walkden from Menai Bridge lost £18,000 to a hacking scam in 2019, and faced the double whammy of Covid lockdown and Brexit import difficulties in 2020.

But they said that they had their most successful Christmas ever thanks to what they say were people feeling an intense pang of ‘hiraeth’ – or longing for home – during the lockdown.

“Covid-19 was very damaging to Si-lwli Cymru,” Awena said. “Because the shops had to close for four months, we stopped producing the toys completely.

“The business is a night time project. Trying to juggle full time work, teaching from home, and caring for a young baby was enough. We had to put a temporary halt to the business.

“But at the end of 2020 we had one of the most successful Christmas ever.

“I hear from many people that hiraeth, the longing of the lock-up period, was an important part of our decision to buy our products.

“And the longing for Wales and the Welsh language too. 15% of our sales are now outside Wales.”

‘Being heard’

Awena Walkden and her husband from Menai Bridge set up Si-lwli Cymru “by accident” in 2016, when their daughter was having difficulty “settling to sleep”.

“My daughter, Cadi, was having trouble falling asleep, and we created Seren Swynol, a toy that sings Welsh nursery rhymes,” she said.

“We then went on to invent Draigi for my son Mabon, a red dragon who sings rugby pitch songs; from Sosban Fach to Calon Lân!

“We didn’t intend for it to go any further than our four walls. We almost set up a company by accident!”

Now Awena Walkden says the company is “going from strength to strength”.

“Si-lwli’s toys are very popular during rugby season too!” she said.

The company insists that the aim of the company is to promote the Welsh language, not to make a profit.

Awena Walkden added: “We help keep Welsh a natural part of the home during a period of home education.

“It makes the Welsh language a prominent part of families’ daily lives. It’s being heard.”

Si-lwli Cymru was set up because of the family’s needs, but Awena saw the lack of Welsh and Welsh toys as a major disadvantage to the language.

“In bilingual homes, English has a huge advantage. There are endless resources available in that language,” she said.

“It’s very important for children to be able to relate to their language in an easy way, and the best way to do that is through play.”

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