Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson speaking at the House of Lords Welsh Language Consultation

3rd February 2016

On Thursday 21 January Pastors Llew Edwards and John Surridge attended a Welsh Language reception and consultation at the House of Lords in London. Focusing on the Role of the Welsh Language in the Third Sector the event was organised by Welsh Language Commissioner Meri Huws, together with Ruth Marks, Chief Executive of the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA). Sponsoring the event, and giving a lively and engaging keynote address was Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, former gold medal winning wheelchair athlete, now parliamentarian and television presenter.

Baroness Grey-Thompson was introduced in the House of Lords on 29 March 2010 and made headlines by swearing the oath of allegiance in both English and Welsh. She is passionate about developing the use of Welsh and encouraged all of the charity leaders present at the event to integrate the language into all of their activities. "The biggest growth in Welsh speakers is amongst children and young people of school age," she said. "Many doors will open to young people as they practise and develop their Welsh through taking part in third sector activities – socially, culturally and in developing skills for future employment."

There are also legal implications for organisations which operate in Wales. Welsh Language Commissioner Meri Huws said, "For the first time ever, the Welsh language has official status in Wales. People, regardless of their age, background or area, have rights to expect they can live their lives through the medium of Welsh."

Ruth Marks, Chief Executive of the WCVA, said, "Through volunteering, organisations can offer an opportunity for people to socialise through the medium of Welsh, or practise their language skills to improve their confidence and proficiency in an informal setting."

Pastor John Surridge, President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Wales, was delighted to have been invited to the event. "I spent several years learning Welsh but, like so many others, I have been less than diligent in using it. This consultation helped me to realise that we could be missing opportunities. There are over 500,000 Welsh speakers in Wales, many of them school children. Some of these attend our churches. We need to celebrate and make use of their skills."

 Pastors John Surridge and Llew Edwards

[Communication Department]

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