In a ceremony held at South Wales Police Headquarters in Bridgend last week Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan presented the 2022 South Wales Police Welsh Language Learner of the Year award to Neil Scourfield.
Neil joined South Wales Police as an Assistant Accountant in October 2007 and has since progressed to become Financial Accountant working from Police headquarters in Bridgend.
The award recognises the year’s outstanding Welsh learner, and the person who has shown the most commitment, drive and passion for learning Welsh over the past 12 months.
During their deliberations, the judges who are part of the South Wales Police Learning and Development team were particularly impressed with Neil’s enthusiasm, positivity and efforts to develop and improve his Welsh skills. It was also noted that this enthusiasm was not dampened by the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Receiving his award, Neil said:
"I’m delighted to have received this honour and I’m grateful to my family, colleagues and South Wales Police for the help and support I have received. "I think my learning journey is not untypical of my generation. I wasn’t really interested in learning Welsh at school and it was not compulsory when I did my GCSEs. I then left Wales to study in London and felt a huge wave of Welshness while living away from Wales which inspired me to start learning Welsh from a book. "My self-teaching was sporadic and eventually progress stalled. However, having lost the ability to drive due to sight issues, I was forced to public transport to work every day so I decided to use the travel time to re-engage with learning Welsh and use packages such as Duolingo and Say Something in Welsh which really propelled my progress. "I then nervously logged into an informal South Wales Police ‘Siop Siarad’ one day and really enjoyed the experience. I met Heulwen Jones, the South Wales Police Welsh trainer, who has encouraged my learning further and really developed my confidence to engage in Welsh at every opportunity."
Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan said:
"I’m delighted to recognise Neil’s efforts and congratulate him on his success. Neil had overcome stiff competition as we have large numbers of enthusiastic South Wales Police officers and staff making the effort to learn and improve their Welsh-language skills. They do this through our learning and development courses and also in their own time. "In recognising Neil's success I also pay tribute to Heulwen, our Welsh Language trainer, and the Learning and Development team. "Heulwen continues to provide our learners with positive support, and we are grateful for her continued inspiration and guidance. The Learning and Development team also continue to develop new and innovative ways of delivering training such as in-house podcasts which have really helped our learners. "As an organisation we continue to develop and improve the policing services we offer, whether our communities choose to access these in Welsh or English. The fact that so many of our officers and staff want to learn and improve their Welsh is reassuring and also inspiring. "I’ve no doubt that the determination and passion shown by Neil and other colleagues will help us achieve our goal of making South Wales Police a truly bilingual organisation."
Our annual Welsh language report can be accessed via this link.