Hi there, my name is Jill Hurds and I work at RNC, Hereford in Human Resources. That’s the department that used to be known as Personnel.
(I remember one of our previous managers going to a Careers event and some children there thought Human Resources was something to do with old bones!!)
What we do in the Human Resources department
We are a team of 4 dealing with recruitment mainly; advertising vacancies, processing applications, arranging interviews, sending offer letters, requesting references and DBS checks and finally when all that is done and cleared, start dates and contracts of employment. We have to make sure that all candidates are treated fairly and equally, as well as the current staff too. So if staff have any grievances or performance related issues that involves us too. Also sickness absences, staff induction, amendments to contracts, staff leaving ,and volunteers; that’s to name just a few things we deal with on a daily basis, so no two days are ever the same! It is a very interesting job and we have to be very accurate and follow strict procedures regarding employment law and our Ofsted and Safeguarding guidelines. We work quite closely with payroll too, so that everyone is paid correctly and on time!
My life outside of RNC
In my family life I am married to John and we have a son James who is 13 years old. John is a teacher at St Michaels International College in Tenbury Wells. He teaches International GCSE Business Studies to foreign students ranging from ages 14-19 years old.
My favourite sports
We are all big rugby union fans and support Gloucester Rugby, my son James has been playing at Hereford RFC since he was 5 years old and my husband John is the Manager of the Development Squad of the seniors at Hereford RFC. So our weekends revolve around rugby matches on Saturday for John and then Sundays for James, from September through to April/May every year. We are also very proud that my nephew, Josh McNally, has been signed to London Welsh RFC this season, from the RAF.
We are also big supporters of Blind Football and watch the GB / England team when they play matches at RNC.
My volunteering role with Guide Dogs
As well as this, I am also a Volunteer Boarder for Guide Dogs, which means that I am registered and trained to look after Guide Dogs when their owners need me to. This could be because the owner is playing sport, or maybe going to an event which they prefer not to take the dog to, on holiday or even if they are ill or in hospital. We have been looking after Guide Dogs for nearly 4 years and in that time we have looked after around 45 different dogs, with around 130 separate periods of boarding. We of course have students at RNC with Guide Dogs that I look after, but also there are lots of former students living in Hereford and other Guide Dog owners too, so I am kept extremely busy. It’s not very often that we have a week without a dog coming home to stay. We love them all but I do have my favourites – no names mentioned though!
The Guide Dog process
Recently we have also been asked to look after Guide Dog puppies too. We have had 4 so far, mainly when the puppy walkers need a rest or are going on holiday. We have an 8 month old puppy staying with us at the moment. I will try and explain the process a little bit to you: Puppies are bred from specific Guide Dog breeding stock dogs and bitches, chosen for their temperament and they go out to Volunteer Puppy Walkers at around 7 weeks old and they are asked to socialise them, getting them used to public transport, travelling on trains and buses, meeting people and children, as well as other dogs. They are trained to go to the toilet (spend) on command, and also to wait when their food is given to them until they have a whistle command, so they don’t jump up. They will also be trained to come back from a ‘free run’ (off the lead) to a whistle command too.
Then at around 12-14 months old, they leave the puppy walker and go in for training for around 12 months, then if they pass all the training, the different teams around the country choose a particular dog they think will suit an owner waiting for a Guide Dog. This can depend on the dog’s temperament, size, height, breed, colour and sometimes even sex. Some owners want only female dogs for instance and maybe a particular breed too. The dog and owner partnership will then have intensive training together, and begin to learn routes. Some people believe that the dog knows where they are going to, but the owner has to know the route they need and the dog is there to guide them.
So as you can see being a Guide Dog volunteer play an important part in the dog’s working life, and I think I am very privileged to be able to see the dogs working with their owners at RNC, helping students to become more independent and find their way around campus and Hereford city and knowing that I am part of this fabulous process. I am also very lucky that as my job is office based, I can take the dogs to work with me.
My friend, and RNC work colleague, Gemma Morton has a lovely dog called Ida who I sometimes look after. Read Gemma and Ida’s story