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Jennifer Thomas Story

Consultant in Rehabilitation, Neurosciences

I try to use Welsh every day at work with staff and with patients. I grew up in a small village in West Wales but my parents were not fluent Welsh speakers.  They took a big risk in sending me and my brother and sister to a Welsh secondary school even though we were not fluent to begin with. It was confusing for a bit as we had missed out on all the childhood stuff like nursery rhymes and fairytales but we coped just fine.

My husband is from North Wales and his first language is Welsh and that has helped

me improve. He has been very patient over the years but will still occasionally wince and correct my grammar. My three children have their first language as Welsh and Welsh is the language of our home. The kids also raise their eyebrows occasionally especially at my mutations.

With one parent from the North and one from the South we had to agree on set words for common things so the kids didn’t get confused. There are different words for most things in Welsh depending in where you grew up. To paraphrase the song ‘you say agoriad I say allwedd’. You might have to be Welsh speaking to get that!

My clinical work involves referrals from across South Wales and it is a great feeling to have an additional connection with a patient through a shared language. It helps establish rapport and as Wales is such a small place we often discover we know someone in common! It can be tricky to hold a consultation in Welsh and write in the notes in English but it’s well worth the effort. I find the lanyards and badges on uniforms helpful and make an effort to turn any conversation to Welsh if possible.

The clinical board has tried hard to support the Welsh language and the Children’s Hospital has patients from all over South Wales many of whom are Welsh speaking. There is a keen team of staff who wish to support the use of the language in a very practical way.

My advice is have a go at using Welsh – people will really appreciate that you tried.

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