jill

Lynda McLernon

Treasurer & Newsletter Editor

I was previously Jill Griffith, born in Southend Hospital in 1940, fully sighted, Unfortunately I had measles on my first birthday and as a result had my left eye removed.

For the first twenty-four years of my life I lived in Benfleet and attended The St Margaret’s Church of England School in Bowers Gifford and then King John School in Hadleigh. I had been a Brownie and later in the Girls Life Brigade. I studied and qualified in ballroom and Latin-American dancing at the Chalkwell Studio. After leaving school I studied hotel and catering at Municipal College at Victoria Circus, Southend, and then worked in London for seven years as a chef, travelling daily by train from Benfleet Station.

Following my marriage in 1964 I moved to Silversea Drive in Westcliff, where I still live. So to become totally blind through glaucoma on my wedding day brought a sudden stop to my very active life. After fighting off the medical profession and their decision that I should have an abortion I gave birth to my daughter, I then spent nearly six years housebound until in 1972 I was trained with my first guide dog Topsy, who gave me back my independence. I joined the National Federation of the Blind, who I still work for in a voluntary capacity. Over the past forty four years I have spent most of my time working for the Federation, for thirty years representing them on the RNIB Council, the Department of Transport Advisory Committee for twenty yearsand chaired the European Blind Union Commission on Mobility and Transport for sixteen years. I was awarded the MBE in 1983 for my work on improving access for guide dogs, initiating tactile paving at pedestrian crossings and helping in the design of low-floor buses. And in 2011 I was awarded the OBE for all my voluntary work over the previous twenty-eight years.

I am currently a trustee of RICA and Living Without Sight Ltd and am patron of Trust Links Growing Together. Now aged 76 I have cut down on my journeys to London and abroad so I hope that I can contribute locally using my experience from a wide range of committees that I previously sat on and chaired, as well as having been a member of the Appeals Service for the Disability Living Allowance for twenty-one years.

I have published my autobiography, “Just Jill”, and also the story of my six guide dogs, “Jill’s Leading Ladies”. I now havet my seventh guide dog, my first boy dog, called Jagger, who guides me to my local church, Chalkwell Methodist, and to my many meetings in London.

I am supported by my husband Alvin, who is well-known in the town for tuning pianos and running his own music shop opposite Chalkwell Schools. My daughter Jacqueline, son-in-law and grandchildren Joseph and Emily live in Southampton, who visit us as often as they can.

I look forward to working for the Older People’s Assembly, and if I can be of any help to any readers, please contact me.

Mrs Jill Allen-King, OBE,
59 Silversea Drive,
Westcliff-on-Sea,
Essex,
SS0 9XD

Telephone: 01702 477 899