“I was born in Cardiff and I've just reached my 70th birthday,” says Lyn.
“I went to Cardiff High School for Girls and since leaving have always worked in finance. I retired 10 years ago.
“It was my friend Carole who introduced me to Tŷ Hafan. I was Treasurer of Cardiff High School for Girls Old Girls Association and Carole was President. Carole chose her Charity of the Year to be Tŷ Hafan because her great-niece, Catriona, was one of the first intake at Tŷ Hafan, so Carole was a great supporter of Tŷ Hafan.
“We visited the hospice and at once I felt that I would like to volunteer for Tŷ Hafan as I was so moved by the hospice and all the support it gave to children and their families.
“I originally volunteered when I was working and part of the Charity Committee and that inspired me to continue to volunteer for charities independently as I have felt a personal reward by helping to fundraise for these charities. I would like to think that my personality and my desire to help and give back something to society has helped me to promote the charities in a good way.
“Now I am retired I am a full-time charity volunteer. It is a very wonderful thing to do. I am a very outgoing person – I love talking to people and watching people. I have made so many friends through volunteering. People know me now – we have a chat and a giggle. These are wonderful relationships!
“I currently volunteer for Tŷ Hafan as well as for Marie Curie Hospice, Noah's Ark, the Alzheimer's Society and City Hospice. Plus, I have previously volunteered for British Heart Foundation, Kidney Research, Teenage Cancer Trust.
“I am also in training for the Marie Curie Patagonia Trek which is due to take place in Argentina next year. I am walking 6 miles a day in preparation for this event and my target is to raise £4,000.”
“Through volunteering I have had so much fun and had so many amazing moments. I helped to marshal Tŷ Hafan's Midnight Walk in 2014. That was amazing. We all met up in the Millennium Stadium and walked all around Cardiff through the night, reflecting that mums and dads of children with complex needs often don’t get a full night’s sleep as care is needed 24/7. It was so special to be walking around at midnight.
“The following year I took part in the walk itself and I remember driving into Cardiff in my sports car in my PJs and dressing gown and then walking through from the car park to the start of the walk. Of course, the Midnight Walk hadn’t started at that time and so many people were looking at me thinking I was a bit strange!
“But perhaps my own greatest moment was in 2012. I was working at Lloyds Bank at the time and after hearing that I’d volunteered one weekend for a number of charities, and that I spent a lot of time supporting these charities, unbeknown to me, my boss nominated me to be an Olympic Torchbearer.
“On May 25, 2012 – nine years ago - I got to carry the Torch for 16 meters along the main street in Abergavenny with lots of my family, friends and the public cheering me on. I felt like the Queen!
“Plus I had applied to become a Games Maker four years before and I was lucky to be chosen for the Olympic Games at the Excel Centre in London, and, at the Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford in July 2012. These events were amazing and I will never forget the experiences that I had.”
“A typical day for me now is to visit donors who have elected to support Tŷ Hafan by having a collection pod on their premises. I check the pods, collect and replace them, and then bank the money raised, keeping records for everything I do.
“Another typical day is when I volunteer at Tŷ Hafan shop in Cowbridge where I volunteer all day every Saturday, where I help in any way, accepting donations, labelling items, culling items when required, promoting the sale of donated items and promoting the Crackerjack lottery tickets using the till.
“I always try to build a rapport with the customers in the shop and promote Tŷ Hafan in each and every way I can. I like to give good service at all times. I feel that because Tŷ Hafan is a local charity with its head office and the hospice so close, and that people many know of a child or family who have been to Tŷ Hafan, therefore they have high regard for the charity and are very generous.
“I have had the pleasure many times of visiting head office and the hospice in my role as an Ambassador and I can speak very well and promote the charity very well. Plus I have volunteered at various events including the Family Day and Taff Trail Cycle Ride. As an Ambassador, I have also been asked to accept cheques and to give talks on Tŷ Hafan in a number of places.
“I also used to volunteer for a number of days in the week helping with the processing of the twice-yearly Tŷ Hafan Raffle with the Lottery department but since taking on more work with the collection pods and volunteering for other charities I have not done this for a couple of years.
"I have been honoured that my photograph appears on the Tŷ Hafan website as a Charity Ambassador, and also on the Volunteering leaflet. I have also been honoured to meet our Patron Prince Charles and Camilla at their house in Myddfai, near Llandovery, a number of years ago, and also at the Hospice when Prince Charles visited in 2018.
“When I met him for the second time at our head office three years ago he looked at me and said: “I’ve met you before!” Now I am sure that someone prompted him to say that, but whatever, it was an absolute privilege to meet him.
“It gives me a great sense of pride to know that I am helping in some small way. I’m only a small person in Tŷ Hafan – but I always try to do my best whenever I can and I will always carry the banner for Tŷ Hafan and will promote it wherever I go.”
“We take it for granted, don’t we, the creation and birth of a child. But actually, what an amazing thing it is that a baby is created.
“For a parent to have a child with something wrong with them, either from birth or something which develops later, to see the devotion of the parents, and the affection and love between them and their child is a very powerful thing.
“To see how the little ones develop – how they come along. It’s sad but it’s also so happy. In fact, the hospice is such a happy place. It’s a noisy place, a colourful place.
“What Tŷ Hafan does for families, free of charge, is absolutely amazing. Many of the children are not expected to live beyond 18 – and yet many of them now do, thanks to the care and support they get.
“It truly is amazing. It’s all about love. All about affection. The family day is wonderful and the support for siblings is immense too. But ultimately, what really does it for me is the fact that Tŷ Hafan enables children and families who are facing some of the most difficult challenges we can imagine, to be treated like any other child or family.”
“Volunteering gives you absolutely amazing experiences. For a start, it looks amazing on your CV, and if you are bit shy, it will help to bring you out of your shell.
“You build relationships – just one example, when I was volunteering in one of Tŷ Hafan’s shops, one older lady would come in and give me sweet every Saturday by passing the sweet along the counter to me discreetly. That so touches me to this day, to think that she would think of me in this way.
“Ultimately, volunteering teaches us all it’s not all take in this world, it’s about giving too. And giving your time is perhaps the greatest gift of all.”