Speech problems and talking Welsh…

2nd November 2012

When I was around 6 years old I began to develop a stammer otherwise known as a speech impediment. It was frustrating and exasperating. This continued and the annoyance in the lack of ability to talk fluently was reduced but stayed with me when I joined the Army in my teens. It became quite an obstacle for me, sometimes being too much to handle but had learned excellent avoidance techniques to counter act it.

In around 2004 the stammer returned, only for a few words in any one sentence but enough for it to be a concern. By 2006 it was spreading into many areas of my social and work life, causing mischief and mayhem along the way. At this point I decided to visit a Speech Therapist.

After some horrible sessions of purely analysing my speech by recording me talk, having mock phone calls and conversations to people it was concluded that my stammer was anxiety / stress based.

There was one conversation which I had with the speech therapist, where I showed an interest in learning to speak Welsh. I was informed that the sounds made by the Welsh language would be too difficult for me to produce. This was certainly deflating at the time and almost all hope was lost.

As time moves towards 2008, with help coming in the aid from a supportive boss and my partner, my speech began to return to a fluent manner (ish) but with some hiccups still occurring.

By 2011, I had taken a few unexpected detours on the ride of life. The best analogy that could be used is that my life, a giant etch-o-sketch had someone shake the hell out of it, leaving only a blank canvas to start over again.

So we enter the chapter of my life where I had lost most of what had been previously been achieved, but for me, it meant that there was nothing more to lose… and GlastonBees was becoming less of a fantasy as I made more realistic plans.  There were new challenges that were set and they were massive, but… they were broken down well into bite size pieces.

Times they are a changing…

In the pursuit of happiness, GlastonBees was founded and established. It needed a different me, change was required if I were to succeed.

As a matter of fact, changes were becoming noticeable, confidence was growing, comfort in asking for help was escalating, fantasies were transformed into plans and some of these plans were becoming achieved. This seemed to filter through my life into other areas, teaching me a lot more about myself and life.

A few months ago in 2012 a friend and I were talking about speaking Welsh, we discussed that we have both fancied learning but for me the words of the Speech Therapist were looming in the murky depths of my mind. Thinking back now… things began to become very clear to me.
Thoughts were that I am no longer the man I was back in 2006,

Look how far I have come since I couldn’t even call a taxi company and ask for a taxi… or when I couldn’t order drinks at a bar.

New additions have been made to my life, one of which was to learn to speak Welsh, no longer was I going to just accept what others told me, I needed to find things out for myself and see if it was possible to pronounce the Welsh language.

So, after enrolling on to a Welsh language course, there was a fear of public humiliation, but that was counter acted with downloading MP3 files for learning to speak Welsh. The thinking was that it would give me a boost in confidence and give me a head start. After some 6 weeks in, it is really enjoyable, there are some pronunciations which are troublesome but the anxiety / stress is just not there to give any grief.

After a short period of time, I am now well on my way to speaking a second language, Some days I ask myself, Why do I bother to learn to speak Welsh, when I live and work in an environment which speaks predominantly English? But my motivation is clear to me…

One of my dreams is to speak Welsh, Why?… So that I can watch the Rugby on S4C and understand what it is that they are saying, or that I would like to read and understand the road signs that I see here in Wales. Maybe it’s because I want the option to be able to speak Welsh if needs be, or that it is to prove a point (to myself) that I can achieve anything if I’m determined or passionate enough.

After reading back over this for the umpteenth time for proof reading it has finally became obvious why I am thinking this tonight.  To be honest with you, the message that I’m trying to portray for you tonight, that I hope is coming across, is that anything is possible, if you truly, really want something.  Do not let yourself or someone else diminish your dreams.