MEMBERS of the Pantycelyn group of Cymdeithas yr Iaith gathered outside Aberystwyth Starbucks on Friday (April 29) calling on the company to respect the Welsh language.
The action followed an allegation by star soprano Gwawr Edwards that she overheard a member of Starbucks staff told a customer to ‘Speak English or get out’.
The company now denies the incident happened at all.
Manon Elin, chair of Cymdeithas’ language rights group who is also a member of the Pantycelyn group said: “It strikes us as odd that someone, with a high public profile, would tweet about something like this if there is no truth to it.
“But the fact remains that the company, like every other company, should ensure that all staff are aware of the importance of offering a service in Welsh, and that the Welsh language has official status.
“It is the staff’s responsibility to learn Welsh to serve customers, not expect customers to use English. As there was an allegation that an individual’s freedom to speak Welsh was interfered with, which is illegal, we have asked the Welsh Language Commissioner to investigate.”
Councillor Mark Strong who joined the group at Starbucks on Friday told the Herald that they got a far from friendly reaction when they asked politely, in Welsh, to speak to the manager.
Elfed Jones, Chair of the Pantycelyn group of Cymdeithas yr Iaith said: “Cymdeithas has sent a letter to the company’s national HQ about the situation but we felt that something should be done locally too. We encourage everyone to go to local cafes.
“But given that not everyone will want to do so, all staff at Starbucks should have language awareness training, and be provided with Welsh lessons.”
Since the allegation hit the headlines a number of people have agreed publicly that it would be better to buy one’s coffee from an independent local business.
Sam Mackenzie-Grevy of MGs in Aberystwyth told The Herald why people should use her café and other independent local shops: “Local businesses support other local businesses. The likes of Starbucks, Costa, Coffee #1 and Café Nero bring their goods in on big lorries from huge factories far away.
“We buy from a local wholesaler and from local bakeries, butchers and so on. The money circulates in our community rather than being sucked out.”
The Starbucks brand is one of those that have become synonymous with the ‘death of the British high Street’.
An American chain, Starbucks is based in Seattle. The corporation is the largest coffeehouse company in the world with over 800 stores in Britain and 20,891 in 64 countries worldwide. Campaigners accuse the multi-billion dollar Starbucks of killing off local cafés through unfair or aggressive competition.
Ethical Consumer magazine reports that, although Starbuck’s has tried to clean up its image by introducing the option of Fairtrade coffee, the corporation’s image has been tarnished by scandals over tax avoidance.
Starbucks has been severely criticised for paying millions in royalties and interest from its UK businesses to its companies abroad, thereby reducing its UK tax bill.
Bowing to pressure from HM Revenue and Customs, in 2015 Starbucks did pay £8.1m in UK corporation tax. However, that payment was roughly equal to the total it paid over the past 14 years despite making sales of £3billion during that period.
Critics call for Starbuck’s to make its accounts more transparent. Its pre-tax profits for 2015 were £34.2m to the end of September.
In 2015, the corporation’s best paid director was paid £282,842. In the same year a barista earned £6.77 an hour before Starbucks increased that to a new national living wage of £7.20 set by the UK government.
Penrhyn-coch Brownies compose song
PENRHYN-COCH Brownies were congratulated for composing a new Welsh language song recently. The workshops were part of a program of Welsh language workshops organised by Cered – Menter Iaith Ceredigion.
Following a series of workshops with the young singer, Mari Mathias from Talgarreg, the girls decided to compose a song. ‘Yn yr Haf’ was recorded with the girls singing and Mari on the guitar. All the group members received a copy of the song on CD.
Rhodri Francis, Cered’s Development Officer said: “It has been a pleasure to work with the group and we congratulate members on their masterpiece. Thanks also to the leaders for their enthusiasm in securing opportunities for the members to socialise in Welsh outside of school hours.”
Cered’s main aim is to support, influence and develop the use of the Welsh language in Ceredigion through partnership and co-operation, to establish the best possible foundation for the development of the language in the society and community.
Wendy Reynolds, leader of the Brownies unit in Penrhyn-coch said: “The experience has been amazing for the girls and they’ve had a lot of fun doing activities through the medium of Welsh.”
Follow all the news about the wider work of Cered, through liking the Facebook page @ceredmenteriaith or follow on Twitter @MICered.
For more information on Cered, phone 01545 572350 or email email@example.com.
Theatre caravan coming to Aberystwyth
THE SMALLEST cinema in a theatre caravan will be on the Promenade in Aberystwyth for three Saturdays this summer.
Staff from Ceredigion Museum, together with the Friends of Ceredigion Museum, will be hosting a series of free entertaining events in and around the theatre caravan on July 28, August 4, and August 11 between 12pm and 4pm.
Sarah Morton, the Events Organiser for Ceredigion Museum said, “We have a series of short local films from the National Film and Screen Archive which links to our summer exhibition relating to the seaside at the museum, in the old Coliseum Theatre. The two minute films show people on the beach and promenade in Aberystwyth as well as Y Borth. We will also have singing from the Showtime Singers to add to the entertainment.
“We will be situated in and near the bandstand and hope to be able to bring some of the traditions of a typical coastal break back to life.”
Besides the theatre caravan, there will be a Guess-the-Object held in the bandstand with museum staff to aid in identifying the mystery objects.
For more details about the caravan and the entertainment, contact Sarah Morton at Ceredigion Museum on 01970 633088
Surprise presentation for retiring cook
AFTER feeding hundreds of children in her role as cook at Ysgol Eglwyswrw for the past 40 years, Mrs Anona Williams is finally hanging up her apron. But there was a shock in store for Mrs Williams when she arrived at the school for one of her last days at work on Tuesday (Jul 17).
Cameras from the S4C magazine programme, Heno, were present to capture her receiving a special award from music conductor and presenter, Alwyn Humphreys.
She started at her post in 1978 and during that time has fed three generations including her own niece and nephew and great-niece and great-nephew.
Headteacher, Edryd Eynon, said Mrs Williams would be sadly missed.
“We will miss her delicious meals and her caring nature,” he said.
“She spoils all the children and is like a grandmother to them. Her contribution to the school is priceless.
“She ran the breakfast and the Cook It clubs and ensured all pupils had an exciting experiences working with food and preparing many delicious recipes.
“Every sports day she would prepare and donate coffee, tea and her famous scones and all the money she raised would be given to school funds. She did this for 40 years.
“Mrs Williams will be sadly missed at Ysgol Eglwyswrw not only for her delicious food – especially her pizza and coleslaw – but also for her caring and loving character. We wish her all the best for the future.”
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