Volunteer of the Month - April 2021 - Gaynor Tilby

Posted by Victoria Leedham

Since signing up to be one of our Volunteer Speakers in 2014 with her hearing dog Indigo, Gaynor Tilby hasn’t stopped talking, smiling and charming audiences far and wide!

She has done hundreds of talks for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People over the years and didn’t let the Coronavirus pandemic slow her down, she effortlessly moved into virtual speaking from home with around 25 remote talks either done or booked already this year!

A testimonial from a recent virtual talk to a Cub Scout group leader proves just how superb Gaynor is as a speaker: “Thank you so much for tonight's meeting, the children loved it and so did we. They said it's been one of the best meetings we've had over Zoom, it was so interesting to find out about Hearing Dogs and your personal story.”

And from a mum: “I just wanted to say thank you to Gaynor and Indigo for your talk to Dunstable and Hemel Hempstead Cubs tonight. My daughter Phoebe really enjoyed it and thinks that you are an inspiration.”

Community Fundraising Manager Gaynor Cavanagh confirms that Gaynor receives similarly superlative feedback for almost every talk and that “she gets loads of talks by recommendation as she’s simply so good! She is a fantastic character, and the groups all adore her. People love hearing about her partnership with hearing dog Indigo and generally give a good donation afterwards.”


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Steve Heyes, Director of Income Generation & Communications who recently chose Gaynor to speak to his whole team echoes these words, “We need to know first-hand from our partners how their hearing dogs have helped them feel part of the world around them. It’s how we get better at what we do - and we simply could not have chosen better than Gaynor. She was so warm, passionate, engaging and inspiring, despite doing this in front of thirty colleagues! As a father, I found her stories of being excluded in the playground especially touching and profound.”

Gaynor truly is an inspiration to all. She holds down a demanding job as a probation officer in the prison service whilst giving freely of her time to volunteer, and also making sure she and her husband Ralph enjoy their stunning Lake District surroundings with Indigo.

Always wearing a huge, warm smile on her face Gaynor is without question a perfect ambassador for Hearing Dogs. She leads our fundraising in Cumbria and, as we have few volunteers and partnerships in the area, Indigo certainly plays his own important role in introducing both locals and visitors to what his burgundy jacket means. Gaynor and Indigo qualified as a demonstration partnership in 2017 and we know they will be attending in-person events together as soon as Government restrictions allow. Gaynor Cavanagh says: “Gaynor is an amazing lady and an absolute hoot. She spreads the word about Hearing Dogs from Coniston to Crufts!”  


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For anyone not privileged enough to have met Gaynor, below is what she said following representing Hearing Dogs at Crufts in 2019. It will tell you everything you need to know about this wonderful woman, her kind, generous, giving nature, as well as her desire to give back and recognise others:

“We were honoured to be able to take part in the Hearing Dog exhibition stand, informing the public of what a difference Indigo has made to my life. I was also lucky enough to meet some of the volunteers involved in puppy training - their selfless dedication to supporting the charity and enabling more of these wonderful dogs to be placed with deaf people.”

“Indigo is such a part of my life, and now my identity. I could not imagine being without him. He enables me to feel proud of my deafness, not to be embarrassed by it and this was hugely important to me when we moved to a completely new area of the country where I didn’t know anyone. Indigo helped me meet new friends and more importantly, I did not need to keep explaining I was deaf when I hadn’t heard someone. It meant that people realised I wasn’t being rude not responding, instead they could see they needed to get my attention before speaking to me.”

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart, to all the volunteers in whatever role you do as you make a real difference to the lives of deaf people.”


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About the author

Victoria Leedham

Hello, I'm Victoria and Head of Volunteering for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and Hearing Link. It’s my privilege to celebrate and share stories about our wonderful volunteer family.

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