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That 'Waw ffactor' sets Caroline apart and wins her the Learners' Medal.

Byline: Our Correspondent

IN A modern and powerful ceremony, Caroline McManus from Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi was awarded the Welsh language Learners' Medal yesterday.

The ceremony was lead by Ion Thomas, a Welsh teacher from Gwynllyw Comprehensive School, and set the tone for a ceremony that celebrates these youngsters who not only take the time to learn Welsh, but take that step further to compete on a national level to show that the language is still very much alive.

He spoke of Merlin the Wizard, and the legend that if the Oak Tree of Carmarthen ever fell, the town would flood. But even as we see the waves of the sea threatening many countries worldwide, Carmarthen is still here and so is Wales and its wonderful language.

The judges were Euros Jones Evans and Lisa Jane Davies.

There were 10 competitors this year, and five of those were deserving of this award but, according to the judges, Caroline had the "Waw ffactor" that separated her from the other four.

To enter the event competitors had to write in three different genres and send a tape of themselves speaking Welsh. Once shortlisted, they were interviewed personally.

Caroline entered a review of the Oscar-nominated film Hedd Wyn, a letter, and a dialogue based on the real-life conversation she had with Cherie Blair at 10 Downing Street.

In 2004 she won a competition to go to ask Cherie Blair a question at No10. Her question of "How long do you think Tony Blair will remain in power?" earned her a trip to London, to which Mrs Blair replied "He has a lot of work to do."

Caroline chose the name Blodyn (Flower) as her pen name, and thanked those who encouraged her to compete.

She said, "I would like to thank my teachers at Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi, especially Mrs Marian Morgan, head of department; Mrs Alwen Davies who was my teacher last year and Mrs Gaynor Lewis who is my present teacher.

"Over the past months they have helped me to prepare for the competition, in particular the interview at Aberystwyth in March.

"They gave up much of their free time to help me and I simply I wish to say thank you for all your hard work over the last months."

In the true modern form that the Urdd's ceremonies have taken, she was lead to the stage to the sound of gangsta-rapping beats mixed with a modern harp, and Aelwyd Hafodwenog performed a clog dance to an upbeat song by the Welsh pop group Pheena.

Caroline is currently in the sixth form studying Welsh, French and Italian and will be enrolling at Cardiff University this September to study law.

Bethan Bosnall and Alicia Williams, both from Ysgol Uwchradd Caerdydd, shared the second prize and Bethan Thomas from Ysgol Uwchradd Teilo Sant, Cardiff, and Robert Duffy from Ysgol Botwnnog, Lln, shared third prize.

The competition was sponsored by Careers Wales, the medal itself was given by Carmarthenshire's area of Merched y Wawr and pounds 200 prize money given in memory of the late Greville James, Cwmafan.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 30, 2007
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