AFTER being engulfed by a row over its failure to use the Welsh language in signage, the National Botanic Garden of Wales has attempted to fight back against stinging criticism made by Cymdeithas Yr Iaith.
The row began when Iola Wyn, of Ysgubor Bryncaerau near St Clears wrote to the National Botanic Garden pointing out recent marketing emails had been in English only and pointing out that a sign positioned at Foelgastell advertising ‘Easter Fun for all the Family’ was also in English only.
The Garden’s own policy on use of the Welsh language reads: ‘Standard written correspondence with the public in Wales will be bilingual, ensuring that where an individual’s preference is not known, their preference for use of Welsh or English is respected and facilitated’.
The above is in addition to the promise that: ‘Any correspondence in Welsh will receive a reply in Welsh’.
In relation to signs, the policy reads: ‘signage will uphold the principle of equality, with Welsh appearing together with the English in equal prominence’.
The response from David Hardy, the Garden’s Marketing Manager, to Iola Wyn appears to have been in English only and to claim that signs were designed to attract English tourists heading down the M4 corridor at speed.
Iola Wyn’s husband wrote, in Welsh, to the National Botanic Garden taking it to task over its failure to treat Welsh equally. He wrote: ‘Taking into account that you have received support from the Welsh Government and the County Council, we would be interested to know why you’re not in a position to provide material in Welsh, and in Carmarthenshire – the county with the highest number of Welsh speakers in Wales’.
She received a response in English: ‘Thanks for your email. I’m sorry you are not happy with the efforts we are making here to attract new visitors to the Garden. In order to save you from further inconvenience and upset, I am happy to remove your name from my distribution list’.
The high-handed response caused outrage and Cymdeithas Yr Iaith were swift to act. A barrage of complaints to and about the Garden’s approach followed. In a letter to both the First Minister and the leader of Carmarthenshire Council, the Society said: ‘The Garden’s attitude towards the Welsh language is very far from what is expected in the twenty-first century’.
In a letter to the Garden’s director, Dr Rosie Plummer, Cymdeithas said: ‘As a national institution that receives significant public funding and support from the local authority and central government it stands to reason that there should be full Welsh language services available. The response to public complaints about shortcomings in Welsh provision are bordering on arrogant, and it raises significant questions about the attitude of the whole organisation towards the Welsh language’.
Cymdeithas’ key criticism is that the National Garden of Wales regards the last part of its title and the Welsh language as an afterthought.
Responding, Dr Plummer said: “The Garden, as an iconic organisation and environmental flagship for Wales, is very committed to its wide support for the culture, language, and heritage of Wales and makes substantial allocation of resources and effort to this. It is therefore enormously disappointing to be subject to such vigorous approaches that largely seem to overlook the very wide range of ways in which the Garden actively contributes to bringing the unique importance of Wales to everyone who visits. The Garden works hard to offer a warm, Welsh welcome and to promote and develop its language resources to the more than 2 million visitors it has welcomed in just 15 years. Necessarily this effort is constrained, particularly at a time when funding everywhere is extremely tight. Nevertheless, all our press releases, brochures, published materials, and visitor signage are bilingual and we take a great pride in the way in which we present our information and learning, and encourage use of the language in a friendly and engaging way. The Garden hosts many thousands of education visits each year, and offers more than 50 curriculum-linked courses through the medium of Welsh.”
There was no sign in Dr Plummer’s response of an apology to Iola Wyn or her husband for the way in which the Garden dealt with their correspondence.
The Herald contacted the Garden’s media office and asked whether it wished to comment on the way it had responded to Iola Wyn and her husband.
No comment was forthcoming
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7-year-old Mattie from Pembrey takes on home Pen y Fan-tastic challenge for Action for Children
Plucky Mattie Denman will climb the equivalent of Pen y Fan in the drive at her family home in Pembrey on Friday 22nd May to raise funds for Action for Children.
Mattie (7), has always wanted to climb the highest mountain in South Wales and is unable to currently because of the coronavirus pandemic. As the family exercise at home every day, she decided she wanted to do the 6-mile equivalent journey there while she waits for the chance to do it for real. Mattie chose Action for Children as her mother, Sian, works for the charity in Carmarthenshire.
Mattie said: ‘My Mammy works for Action for Children and I want to help as well because lots of families need help. My older brother and sister help Action for Children, so I asked Mammy if I could do something. We exercise everyday walking up and down the drive and I have always wanted to climb Pen y Fan, but we have never done it.
‘Mammy said I could pretend I am walking it and people will give money to the charity. I said brilliant, that is what I am going to do and I am super excited to do it. I will use mammy’s step counter and I hope I can help children that need support especially because it is so hard for some families because of coronavirus.’
Proud mum and family support practitioner for Action for Children, Sian, added: ‘Mattie has a lovely heart and really wanted to do something and I’m very proud she chose Pen y Fan as her home challenge. Action for Children has been going the extra mile during the coronavirus pandemic continuing to support vulnerable families through phone and video sessions as well as food and help with the basics from our Emergency Appeal Fund.
‘It is a tremendously challenging time for our families and every bit of money will directly help those in our communities who need it most. I hope as many people as possible will donate to Mattie’s brilliant fundraising effort, it’ll make it even more special when we finally get to climb Pen y Fan for real.’
If you want to support Mattie’s Pen y Fan challenge please go to: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mattiesclimb
Housebuilder launches Coronavirus move in package
A South Wales housebuilder has launched new incentives which mean homes are ‘ready to move into’ during the Covid-19 crisis – without the need for tradespeople or delivery people.
People in Wales are allowed to move into new build houses during the lockdown – and many people have successfully done so.
However, the limitations of social distancing can add extra stress when it comes to having things like dishwashers, washing machines and turf installed in the new property.
That’s why Persimmon Homes West Wales has launched a new incentive package which gives purchasers the chance to buy a house with white goods and flooring already in place.
Sharon Bouhali, sales director at Persimmon Homes West Wales, said: “Our sales advisors have done a terrific job in talking with customers and guiding them through the buying process remotely, without the need of face-to-face meetings.
“It’s been a huge challenge, but we’ve risen to it – and Persimmon has sold more than 120 properties in South Wales during the lockdown period. We have customers moving into their new homes every week.
“But, understandably, some people are cautious about having too many tradespeople and contractors enter their home, even if they are doing their utmost to abide by social distancing rules.
“That’s why we have launched these new packages which mean people can turn the key, unpack and get on with enjoying their new home.”
The package includes carpets and vinyl throughout, turf in the back garden, sliding wardrobes, integrated fridge freezer, integrated washer/dryer, integrated dishwasher and £500 discount towards removal fees.
The deal is on offer at Glas Y Felin in Bridgend, Parc Yr Onnen in Carmarthen, The Bridles in Llanelli, Peterson Park in Pontyclun, Parc Brynderi in Llanelli and Allt Y Celyn in Rhos.
Persimmon’s marketing suites in Wales remain closed for the time being. Visit www.persimmonhomes.com or call 01792 229800 for details of homes available.
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