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Last Updated: Friday, 1 August, 2003, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
MP tries out language skills
Lembit Opik
Lembit Opik's speech in Welsh will tell Wales to have confidence
Politician Lembit Opik has taken a crash course in Welsh and will show off his new-found skills by making a speech at the National Eisteddfod.

The Welsh Liberal Democrat leader and MP for Montgomeryshire has the honour of being a day president at the festival which celebrates Welsh language and culture and spoke at the opening ceremony in Meifod on Friday.

It is only six months since the MP for Montgomeryshire took up the challenge to learn the language.

No stranger to challenges - he is a keen motor biker and used to paraglide before a serious accident - Mr Opik has been helped in learning a new language by his girlfriend, weathergirl Sian Lloyd.

"There's only problem. She speaks Welsh with a southern dialect and I'm learning a northern one," he said

But he also said his Estonian background had helped in acquiring the new skills.

Eisteddfod pavilion
Mr Opik will speak in the eisteddfod pavilion

"If I didn't speak a different language already I think I would have been afraid of learning Welsh," said the MP.

"Once you understand the structure of the language and the vocabulary then things are much easier.

Mr Opik also paid tribute to his Welsh tutor Delyth James at the Gregynog Centre in Newtown.

"She was superb, absolutely fantastic and determined to develop my Welsh and because of that I enjoyed spending time learning."

Gorsedd

His four minute speech to those at the eisteddfod will "remind Wales to have confidence in itself and a belief it can do well."

The MP is not the only mid Wales politician to be using his language skills at the eisteddfod.

Conservative AM Glyn Davies is a contender for the Welsh Learner of the Year prize.

Celebrity-watchers will be looking forward to Monday, when film and TV star Ioan Gruffudd will be admitted to the Gorsedd of Bards.




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