Welsh language skills revived in phone friendship

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Image caption,
Muriel and Kadun now have weekly phone chats in Welsh

An 83-year-old Welsh speaker has revived her language skills with a student through a friendship scheme.

The Friend in Need programme run by the charity Age Cymru works by linking up with an older person for a weekly telephone chat in English or Welsh.

Since joining, Muriel Rogers from Fochriw, Caerphilly, has been able to share childhood memories and anecdotes with Kadun Rees, 22, from Swansea.

"We laugh a lot, we enjoy each other's company," said Muriel.

"Age doesn't come into it. I'm 83, Kadun's 22, but we've become friends.

"The village has changed. The chapels were keeping the Welsh language alive. But that's all changed. It isn't a community any more.

"I tell him, 'You don't have to ring me every Sunday. If there's something else you want to do, well carry on I'll be fine' but he says 'no, I love hearing your stories'."

Growing up, Muriel and her family and relatives spoke Welsh every day.

There were also other Welsh speaking families who had moved to the village so she became extremely proficient, also building up her language skills while working at the family's small holding in Y Bont, Ceredigion.

However when she got married and brought up her two sons she used Welsh less and less.

Her circle of other Welsh speakers also diminished as older relatives passed away, as did her mother.

Image source, Age Cymru
Image caption,
Muriel grew up speaking Welsh in the valleys

"I wasn't speaking Welsh at all before Kadun started to ring me.

"I did watch S4C and follow programmes in Welsh. I could understand it, but if you don't use it you lose it, and that's what happened to me."

Kadun was educated in Welsh at school and was also worried about losing his skills.

He also wanted to do something positive with his free time during the pandemic and being on furlough.

"Muriel likes to talk about being brought up in Fochriw, and her summer holidays in west Wales," he said.

"It sounds strange but Muriel is like a grandmother to me which is odd as we've never met and she calls me her friend."

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