Volunteer of the Month - April 2022 - Lynn Jenkins

Posted by Victoria Leedham

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People’s fortieth anniversary year is a great opportunity to reflect upon some of the volunteers who have contributed consistently to the charity, with good heart and gusto, for a considerable time.

Lynn Jenkins, supported by husband Tim, is one such volunteer. Lynn has been volunteering with Hearing Dogs in Cambridgeshire for almost 14 years, is currently training her 10th full-time puppy however, in total, has looked after more than 50 puppies of various ages for holiday, short term and emergency cover. In addition, she is both forthcoming and reliable when asked to represent the charity for PR opportunities, publications and numerous fundraising events over the years.

Head of Community Fundraising Gill Yeates says: “Lynn is a great support to fundraising in the community. She’s always willing to help and comes along to events, collections and talks if her pup is at the right stage in its development to do so. I fondly remember she supported me with my very first regional talk at Elliotts in Peterborough with puppy Duncan.”

Puppy Training Instructor Emma Walkland tells more of Lynn’s volunteering: “Lynn is a natural trainer! She is an asset to the Cambridgeshire group and has had great success with all of her dogs, for example Wade has gone on to become a fabulous Client Support Dog, Tia has the high accolade of being selected for the breeding scheme and Gizmo is progressing superbly under her tutelage.

On a recent break between dogs, Lynn was extremely helpful in supporting other volunteers in the area and also took Crumpet on for 2 weeks after a complicated spay operation. Lynn worked on Crumpet’s mental stimulation as she was on strict rest and introduced the nose nudge and cooker timer to keep her occupied and also to give Crumpet a head start on her soundwork training. All this on top of her having two of her own pet dogs to care for and also looking after a friend’s dog prior to Crumpets arrival.

Lynn has also helpfully provided me with recommendations of local halls for puppy classes and even offered to host class in her summer house until a suitable venue was found. In fact she regularly welcomes volunteers and their dogs to her home to socialise them with her livestock as she lives on a smallholding farm and also has a confident cat that is used to living with dogs.”

Lynn is quietly confident herself, appearing with Hearing Dogs friends, known as 'The Pedigrees Chums', on TV quizzes Tenable and Eggheads. Head of Communications David Robson couldn’t believe his luck to find a smallholder volunteer with on-camera experience when looking for a volunteer to feature on BBC Countryfile Winter Diaries a few years back! Lynn took the commission completely in her stride, welcomed the film crew into her home, spoke expertly of about Wade’s volunteer puppy training to camera and provided a wealth of sound bites any production company would dream of! David said to Lynn at the time “you really were fantastic and a wonderful ambassador for Hearing Dogs volunteers”.

Staff member and volunteer, Jackie Ilic, agrees: “Along with brood holder, Irene, Lynn, Tim and family gave Client Support Dog, Wade, a great start in life. We are very fortunate to now be Wade’s long-term fosterers; he doesn’t bat an eyelid at cats or sheep, and that’s because of the work Lynn and Tim put in to getting him used to the animals on their smallholding.

Lynn also provided a lovely scrapbook of Wade’s time with them, something she does for all her trainees. We always look forward to their visits to The Grange so we can walk Wade and Gizmo together.”

Lynn is everything we look for in a volunteer. She gives up her time, energy and home to take in an 8-week-old puppy, be prepared to stand outside in the pouring rain at 2 o'clock in the morning waiting for them to toilet, care for and socialise them for 12 to 15 months only to return them to the charity for their final training to become a Hearing Dog for Deaf People.

It's not easy, especially with heart breakers like Wade, however, thanks to people like Lynn volunteering for our charity, many deaf people have had their lives totally transformed by receiving their assistance dog. As deafness is an invisible disability, as well as a lonely one, having a hearing dog makes it visible by means of their distinctive burgundy jacket. Many deaf people find social situations very difficult so by having a dog forces the recipient to go out and engage with people again.

Jane Scott, partnered with retired Hearing dog Duncan, explains the difference Lynn has made to her life:

“I am incredibly grateful for everything Lynn has done in training Duncan, my hearing dog. He has always been a very happy and content dog who is confident to go out and about to all sorts of places due to his great start in life.

My life has changed so much for the better thanks to having Duncan - I have even started a sailing hobby which is very special to me in recent years - I would never have had the confidence to do this without Duncan by my side to face the challenges of communication and meeting lots of new people.

My friendship with Lynn has been a huge bonus and Duncan is always thrilled to be able to see her on a regular basis and meet her various puppies throughout the years. Even recently when our household was struck by COVID, she was offering to help take the dogs out despite living in a different town, which is one of many examples of how kind she is. I do not have enough words to thank her, but I hope that her seeing the huge difference Duncan has made to me helps her be aware of the life changing impact of the work she has done.”

It’s clear Lynn is a treasured friend who extends her kindness to those around her. She recently organised a tour of site for a holiday cover volunteer who had never been before, other friendships date back well over a decade:

“Aaw the lovely Lynn,” says Linda Robinson, “I first met her when I started volunteering thirteen years ago. We would usually be in the same puppy group. I remember she had Duncan the most beautiful Eurasier type of dog, I had a brown working cocker called Emmie. Lynn was always so good at trying to make you feel better, if things were not going as well as you would like. As she was a little ahead, she would be able to offer advice with experience of similar problems. I found her so supportive, always with a ready smile and a laugh. She also held the best puppy parties at her smallholding! It was just wonderful for volunteers and puppy's alike, and the food was amazing. We also did many Hearing Dogs bucket collections together; we had so much fun talking to everyone, Lynn was always very knowledge too.” 

“Lynn was one of the first volunteers we met when we first joined Hearing Dogs eleven years ago” recount John & Tricia Paynter, “nothing was too much trouble for her, from offering words of advice to taking our pups on holiday cover. We have spent many hours in her and Tim’s company and have taken all of our pups to experience meeting the pigs, sheep and chickens on the smallholding.

Lynn is a great asset to the charity. We are grateful for all the help and advice she has given, but more importantly value her and Tim’s friendship and the time we have spent together. It’s all thanks to the Hearing Dogs community that we met.”

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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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