BA Spanish & Welsh, Class of 1996.
Passionate Welsh language advocate, broadcaster and storyteller
Who inspired you growing up?
I have been inspired by a great many people throughout my life. They are people who have loved me, educated me, and mentored me.
My parents and grandparents gave me the love and care that enabled me to feel that I could venture - they inspired me each day.
Teachers at school - Mrs Beryl Jones my Welsh teacher who was from London originally and had learnt Welsh, listening to her discussing poetry and sharing her love of the Welsh language inspired me each day.
Olwen Williams, an English teacher with her passion for books and language and of the skill of debating and expressing an opinion.
Mahmud, my fellow teacher in the school in Istanbul where I taught English. This was my first teaching job and observing his lessons was so inspiring - he was an eccentric actor who informed and entertained his students and fired their enthusiasm to learn.
Professor Hywel Teifi Edwards of Swansea University with his vast knowledge, enthusiasm and unequalled style of lecturing and sharing his knowledge and vision.
Dr Robert Owen Jones of Swansea University first fired my interest in Patagonia and I’ve been lucky enough to visit Patagonia many times with my work. He was also an expert as regards language and grammar.
Helen Prosser was my boss at Cardiff University when I was teaching Welsh to Adults. She taught me the skill of teaching a language to people. She is hardworking, thorough, loyal, kind and passionate.
Gwenda Griffith who taught me everything about being a television presenter and producer - she gave me opportunities, training, and guidance and taught me the importance of being organised, meticulous and true in everything I do.
Who has been the most interesting person you’ve met and why?
When I was working on cariad@iaith I had the opportunity to meet and spend time teaching Welsh to all sorts of interesting celebrities such as Gareth 'Alfie' Thomas - a very sweet man who was competitive and hardworking; Amy Wadge who now writes songs with all kinds of famous artists like Ed Sheeran; H from Steps who was fun and worked so hard. Meeting Janet Street-Porter and discussing the Welsh language with her was interesting, though not always easy. I’ve been able to snoop around the houses of famous Welsh people on the Adra series and ask them about their interesting lives and careers - people like Caryl Parry Jones, Llwyd Owen, Elin Manahan, Myrddin ap Dafydd, Angharad Mair, Heledd Cynwal, Dafydd Iwan, Dafydd Wigley and Eleanor Bennet, Brynmor Williams etc. But if I'm honest the thing I love is chatting with the ordinary people of Wales. Characters who have something to say. I'm privileged to have been able to meet hundreds of different people while filming documentaries and series such as Cwpwrdd Dillad and the broadcasts from the Royal Welsh Show and Noson Lawen.
What are your broadcasting highlights?
I loved working on cariad@iaith as it was my original idea which I had in my first week working in the world of broadcasting. For me it was a perfect job that combined everything I love about my work - teaching people a language, presenting and producing. The team was amazing and we had fun.
Travelling to Bangladesh with a lovely team and a special man called Siragul Islam was a highlight for me too. Having 40 children welcoming us by singing in Welsh in a small village in central Bangladesh and to see Islam meet his sister and niece again and see the school he had funded for the first time was a very special experience.
What are your memories of cariad@iaith?
Very hard work and long hours, lots of fun and laughter, passion, fire, delicious food, canoeing, surfing, cooking, dancing, teaching the National Anthem, discussing nationalism and love of our country's language and history with celebs, seeing amazing linguistic progress in a short time, pure enjoyment!
How does producing compare with presenting and which do you prefer?
Presenting is much easier than producing! I just have to turn up and chat. I love presenting. I realize how privileged I am to be able to do the job and to be able to ask people about all sorts of subjects.
I also love producing - seeing an idea come to fruition, working with a team of people, organizing, administering, communicating with people and getting to know new people all the time. What gives me the most pleasure is the variety. I present, produce, translate, teach, edit children's and learners' books and do scriptwriting and I love that every week is different, every project is different and every experience teaches me something new and challenges me in different ways. I consider myself very lucky.
You’ve travelled extensively with your career. Where was your favourite country?
This is a very difficult question! There is something special about South America. I love the people, the music, the culture and what better than to have the Welsh language there too at the other side of the world. But there is also something very special about Nepal - the peaceful and happy nature of the people. In the midst of their poverty, they have a wealth of a completely different kind.
What do you think are the challenges facing the Welsh language today and how do we tackle them?
A big question! There are all sorts of challenges facing the Welsh language today - parents who speak the language and choose not to pass on Welsh to their children, immigration, holiday homes pricing local people out of the housing market, lack of confidence amongst learners and speakers to use the language, getting children and young people to use the language outside of school boundaries ... the challenges are many. How can they be tackled? With love and respect for each other. By discussion. By educating people. By facing reality and above all by persevering. There is a need for language planning, we need to continue with all the great work that is happening across Wales. In the end, passionate and enthusiastic people with extraordinary energy and tenacity and conviction are the ones who have the ability to change things. I'm confident we're heading in the right direction ... we just need to keep going.
What fascinates you about the psychology of education?
Education can change people's lives. I love the idea that there is potential in each day once one thinks openly about education. The influence of a great teacher is far-reaching and lasts forever. The teachers who have inspired us are part of our lives forever. What happens in a class amazes me and still amazes me. Something special happens when people get together to learn something. The sharing of energy and knowledge and facts and love and concerns pulls people together. People often learn about so much more than the subject they are studying. I am fascinated by the skill of teaching and learning - everyone has their own style and way of remembering, everyone with their own unique approach. I love the whole process. I'm interested in memory and the brain and how it works too and the psychology of how our mindset, our attitude can transform teaching as well. It's so multi-faceted.
What are your memories of being a Welsh student at Swansea University?
My memories of being a student at the University are very happy. Academically - I feel like I've learned and blossomed and developed new ideas and cultivated and fed my passion for our language and culture and history. Socially I remember the fun and laughter, the seafront barbecues, the netball games, the Mumbles Mile, Singleton park in the autumn in its golden colours. I have life long friends from this period and thinking back to this time always makes me smile.