Volunteers of the Month - December 2023 - Linda & Tim Stickland
Posted by Victoria Leedham
Lin and Tim Stickland have been members of the Hearing Dogs for Deaf People community since 2016, volunteer in multiple roles, do more with each year that passes, put in exceptionally long days, and still manage to give each other a hug at the end of it!
This ‘couple goals’ duo first joined the charity as on-site, volunteer dog walkers so quickly became well-known faces at Hearing Dogs’ headquarters - The Grange. They don’t live on the doorstep, so their all-weather weekly commitment was admirable and - as they got to know many of our four-pawed trainees - their volunteering soon expanded to taking them home too!
Many names, like Keira, Ralph and Viv have stayed with them on a short-term basis, however most memorable of all was their first house guest Daisy.
Emma Harbour, Puppy Supply Supervisor, explains: “Lin and Tim have played an enormous part in (now retired) brood Daisy's life, from always being available for her holiday cover needs to having a helping hand in raising her last two litters alongside her principal volunteer fosterer Yvonne Burnside.
Daisy is absolutely smitten with them, and very lucky to still have the pair in her life even now she has put her motherhood paws up.”
“I think Daisy loves Tim more than me - he always gives her more treats!” jokes Yvonne. “I honestly couldn’t have managed without their help, especially when the puppies were born. They’ve both also been supportive in my life outside of Hearing Dogs and we’ve become great friends. They’re such a wonderful couple.”
Behind the scenes, Lin and Tim also support Hearing Dogs in other ways by being exceptionally generous givers to our puppy sponsorship scheme. They give monthly, often have multiple pups on the go and think to gift puppy sponsorship to their friends and family.
On-site dog walking came to end in 2020 when Covid inevitably led to a change in our operations. It was Tim we reached out to as a sounding board for how best to deliver the news to volunteers as it had been such a well-loved role in the past.
Both Tim and Lin are exactly those sorts of volunteers you can be straight with, knowing their feedback will be honest and pragmatic. They’re comfortable voicing an opinion as much as they’re happy to go with the flow and accept change. And, above all that, they’re fun!
Lin is amongst the very few who has ever stepped forward (rather than being cajoled) to be the wearer of one of our mascots, Bruce and Beatrice. It’s a role she’s literally worn with aplomb since 2019!
The mascots are a such an iconic part of Hearing Dogs events such as the Late Summer Show, Volunteer Recruitment Fairs, Christmas Market and Great British Dog Walks. Lin has been involved in all of the above, and gamely up for whatever the day entails including greeting visitors and numerous photos all whilst in character, and all whilst navigating the terrain with limited view from the mascot suit head.
Covid and Lockdown weren’t the only things the couple dealt with in 2020. Tim was ‘blue light’ rushed to Harefield Hospital after experiencing chest pains, leading to emergency surgery and forced rest from volunteering duties.
Once recovered, it wasn’t long before Tim was back in action by popular demand! Be it stocktaking volunteer uniform or joining the volunteer driver roster:
“Tim has been a wonderful help with drives, nothing is too much trouble for him,” says Julie Booth, Operations Resources Coordinator. “He's headed up the M1 on a few ‘Donington runs’ and once had to wait hours at the services to meet up with the delayed southbound driver, which he typically took in his unphased stride!”
Tim had become known for the long shifts he puts in; be it varnishing gates to perfection, unravelling outdoor Christmas lights in the cold, or early mornings setting up and late evenings dismantling our 40th Anniversary Crufts stand. He really has become a relied-upon and integral member of the Charity - often here daily as part of the Maintenance Team ahead of big events.
Andy Craythorne, Maintenance Manager, says: "Over the past few weeks Tim has been an absolute superhero. He went above and beyond to help us make sure that the Christmas Market was ready for the 4,000+ visitors that came over the course of the weekend. He has so much passion, love, and dedication for the Charity it’s amazing.
He was here near enough all-day every day supporting me and the event team to set up, volunteered both Saturday and Sunday with wife Lin, then the two days after to take down it all down and pack away too. Without him, it really would have been a real struggle.”
Head of Estates and Facilities, Roisin Stewart, agrees: “We would never be able to put on events of the scale we do at Hearing Dogs without the dedication and effort of the Maintenance Team, both staff and volunteers.
Tim is such an asset. He volunteers in all weathers, over long days, lending his hand to whatever task is needed. He’s calm, affable and team spirited, never looking for acclaim – just happy to be helpful. He’s often the first to arrive and last to leave, it’s difficult to think how we ever managed without him.”
It’s always nice to look for someone extra special to crown as our Christmas Volunteer of the Month, and in this instance there’s two! May we thank both Lin and Tim for giving so much of their time, generosity, and good humour to Hearing Dogs, and also wish Lin a very merry Christmas Eve birthday!
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