A 90-year-old man has proved its never too late to learn something new after being recognised for his efforts in learning Welsh - having started just three years ago.

David Hill, of Kington, is part of a Welsh learners group based in Presteigne. The group recently hosted a special award evening for David, who has been given a special achievement award by Aberystwyth University.

David was awarded a special achievement certificate in recognition of successfully completing Mynediad level at the age of 90 despite all the additional obstacles thrown in his way by Covid.

The certificate was presented at a special ceremony in Presteigne by Siôn Meredith, head of Learn Welsh at Aberystwyth University. Siôn congratulated David on his achievement, saying how inspiring it is to other learners to hear David’s reasons for wanting to learn Welsh and to see how determination and the love of the Welsh language get you to your goal.

David started learning Welsh at the age of 87, partly in honour of his late beloved wife Hazel who had always wanted to learn the Welsh national anthem, but also having long desired to learn more about the language, culture, history and music of Wales.

Seeing a local class being offered just over the border in Presteigne suddenly afforded David the opportunity to do just that.

Despite being apprehensive at the thought of taking on such a project at his “great age” (David’s words!), he started attending classes.

David loved it from the start, and loved getting to know his classmates who found his persistence inspiring.

Covid intervened after a term and a half, but David didn’t want to let this stop him achieving his aim. Undeterred, he added learning to use Zoom on his iPad to his list of goals, and he joined the class online just three days after the lockdown was announced, as classes suddenly had to move online.

Three years on, David was proud to complete the Mynediad/Entry level course in June 2022, just as he celebrated his 90th birthday.

David said: “I immediately felt at home with my lovely classmates, who have encouraged me throughout the course and they have become dear friends. My wonderful tutor, Sarah Graham, has been the most patient, kind and inspirational of teachers and I owe her a debt of gratitude for enabling me to achieve my aim and commemorate my darling wife Hazel.

“It has been hard work at times, but when you’re nearly 90 these things tend to be tougher than they were when you were younger. I left school at 16, and now at 90 I have a certificate from Aberystwyth University – I am thrilled.”

Tutor Sarah said: “David has been an absolute delight to teach, and I have thoroughly enjoyed his warmth and sense of humour in class. He has often cited his “great age”, with a twinkling smile, when discussing his performance in class.

“I would like to congratulate his persistence and hard work, and the way he has seized this challenge has been an inspiration. I’m delighted that’s been recognised by this rare award.”

David’s classmates said: “It has been a really special pleasure to learn Welsh with David. He’s the loveliest man and has been an inspiration to all of us.

“He rose to the extra challenges he faced when we had to resort to Zoom classes, and never gave up even when the latest tranche of mutations left us reeling and there seemed to be a never-ending variety of ways to make a plural.

“His anecdotes and stories from his long and interesting life have kept us entertained (all in Welsh of course). We are going to miss him in class terribly.”

David has decided to hang up his “geiriadur” (dictionary) at the age of 90, having successfully completed Mynediad/Entry level.

But the Presteigne class have become firm friends and continue to meet up every month, ostensibly to practice Welsh but just as importantly to keep in touch with David and hear more of his amazing stories.