Lyn Pandji, Guide Dogs Victoria
Lyn Pandji has been working for Guide Dogs Victoria for the last 15 years. Firstly as a volunteer Puppy Nurturer, then as a casual Guide Dog Nurse within the Nursery, then a full-time Nursery employee, and finally as the Nursery Team Leader. However, her personal connection to Guide Dogs has been lifelong.
Her mother Diana and her father Eric Hatchley met while both working at the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association in Leamington Spa, England. They married in 1956 and migrated to Perth, Western Australia in 1957 where, in the next two years, Lyn and her brother were born.
Lyn’s father, Eric, had an extensive career at Guide Dogs, firstly qualifying in the UK as a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor under the guidance of Captain Liakhoff in 1954. On arriving in Perth in 1957, Eric joined Keith Holdsworth as the two Guide Dog Mobility Instructors in the newly established WA Guide Dog association and in 1962 moved his family to Melbourne to take on the Director of Training at the Victorian Guide Dog association in Kew.
Travelling to the USA he completed a three-month study in 1965 to qualify as the first Orientation and Mobility Specialist in Australia. Always forward-thinking he then went on to found the ‘Companion Dogs’ and the ‘Remedial Dogs’ program between 1974-1976, better known today as the ‘Pets As Therapy’ program for dogs considered not suitable as Guide Dogs but still having the necessary characteristics to help people in another way.
During this time Lyn’s mother also worked as Kennels Manager, Puppy Raising Secretary to the Breeding and Puppy Raiser Manager, and to this day still works in the capacity of Puppy Raiser Administrator.
I am sure you can agree that Lyn’s connection to Guide Dogs is very much lifelong. Lyn has been a pivotal member of the Guide Dogs team and we thank her for her years of dedication to Guide Dogs Victoria.
Kate Hallam, Guide Dogs SA/NT
Kate is a long-time supporter and volunteer for Guide Dogs. Kate volunteers as a home boarder, caring for dogs while they attend formal training. She has also invested significant time and passion in supporting our Fundraising programs.
Kate’s dedication and commitment was recognised with Honorary Life Membership of Guide Dogs SA/NT in 2019. Through her role as a volunteer, Kate has met some of the clients who have been matched with a Guide Dog and has experienced first-hand the remarkable difference these dogs have made to their lives.
Kate’s passion for supporting people with low vision or blindness to live freely and independently runs in her family. As a child, Kate learned braille with her Grandpa after he suffered a sudden change in vision. Kate’s mum was also a long-term Guide Dog Puppy Sponsor, or a ‘Guide Dog Grandma’ as Kate calls her!
“My Mum taught me about the importance of giving back to the community. She was the one who encouraged me to get involved with Guide Dogs, and I’m so glad I did.” – Kate Hallam
Simon Wong, Consumer Liaison Officer, Guide Dogs SA/NT
Simon has been working side-by-side with Guide Dogs Clients for 25 years. During his Guide Dogs journey, Simon has worked in a variety of roles, including as a Social Worker, Case Manager, Support Coordinator, and now Consumer Liaison Officer.
“I’ve stayed so long because I enjoy working in a positive, Client-centric environment. A lot has changed in 25 years, but what hasn’t changed is the people–we’ve always had wonderful, caring people. I really enjoy being part of the Guide Dogs family.” – Simon Wong
Simon offers Clients practical support and information about how to access funding and other community supports. Simon also plays a key role in a number of programs and projects, including the Carers’ Support Group and Music Appreciation Group, and the newly-formed Consumer Reference Group.
Simon finds his work rewarding and considers it his way of paying it forward. After graduating from Townsend School (now part of the South Australian School for Vision Impaired), Simon completed a Bachelor of Economics and then a Bachelor of Social Work at Flinders University. He’s appreciative of the support he received that enabled him to achieve his goals.
“A lot of people have done a lot for me to get to where I am today. Now, I take a lot of satisfaction when I can play a part in assisting or contributing to someone else’s development. I enjoy seeing positive outcomes.”
Simon’s achievements aren’t just limited to the workplace. He lives an active lifestyle and has a motto of giving everything a go! He has competed in track and field events in the National Blind Championships and participated in the National Swimming Championships.
He represented Australia in the Far Eastern South Pacific International Competition (FESPIC) Games in 1986, winning a gold medal in the 1,500 metres and a bronze medal in the 400 metres.
Simon also participated in the 2000 Olympic Torch Relay as a torchbearer. More recently, he’s developed a passion for tandem cycling and competed in his fourth Tandem Cycling National Road Championship in 2020. He also enjoys ballroom dancing and singing.