Lyn’s story

Lyn, exercise buddy – A new lease of life

Lyn Wright is in her 60’s. She retired two years ago from her much loved job with Avon and Somerset police. “It was a totally varied role, and I loved it,” says Lyn. “You never knew what you were going to get when you turned up for work, with new challenges and problems to be solved on a daily basis.”

Lyn struggled to fill this gap. Her confidence was knocked even more after breathing problems led to a spell in hospital and a diagnosis of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

But there was hope. Lyn remembers how Vicky and Lisa, her brilliant nurses, referred her to the Pulmonary Rehab programme at Brislington to help with her COPD.

She found this support invaluable, so when Lisa asked whether Lyn herself was keen to volunteer and support others, she jumped at the chance.

From patient to volunteer

After an interactive training session with other new volunteers, and a brief gym induction, Lyn was ready to go. Being friendly and outgoing really helped her bond and get into the role. Lyn loves helping others, and says volunteering is the perfect opportunity to do just that.

“As an Exercise Buddy I don’t feel like I am with ‘old people,’” she says. “Rather, the people I see are very capable, but like myself they have COPD-related breathing troubles, so we share similar challenges. I can say: ‘I’ve got COPD, and I know how you feel,’ and we have a chat about how I can help.

“The skilled people here, the nurses, the physios, whoever is helping; they can give advice, but they don’t know what it actually feels like, whereas I do.”

Motivation through caring

Lyn’s role offers huge benefits for her patients, but she has also found it helpful personally. Before retiring, her old job got her up in the morning. “I still miss it. When you stop working, you can lose purpose, and you lose many of the social contacts you have.”

Lyn notes that because of her breathing condition, she also suffered from bouts of depression. “I know the affect COPD can have. Depression was like a black cloud hanging over me.”

Today, Lyn is looking forward to much more volunteering. Her efforts have put her back on her feet, and she loves the social benefits she gets supporting others along their path to recovery.

If you are interested in finding out more, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Greg Juckes on greg.juckes@nhs.net or 0117 440 9178.

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