Sawbridgeworth postwoman Lynn Bryant needs sponsorship to play for England in International Deaf Women's Rugby 15s
Lynn Bryant – a postwoman in Sawbridgeworth for 14 years – has been selected to deliver points for England in an overseas tournament for deaf rugby players.
The 49-year-old needs to raise £1,500 to compete in the first ever International Deaf Women's Rugby 15s tournament in South Africa next year and is looking for sponsorship.
"Lynn is an extremely valued member of our squad – as a senior player the younger girls look to her for guidance and experience," said captain Steph Hanratty. "I for one am an extremely happy captain to have Lynn on my team and not playing against her."
Known affectionately in Sawbridgeworth as 'Hurtle Turtle' and 'Boy Racer' for her cheerful efficiency, Lynn rings on dozens of doorbells daily delivering parcels – yet few people realise that she is deaf.
"I used to hide it by wearing my hair long, but I don't any more," she said. "At my age, I just want to be me – and I've nothing to hide. My daughter helped me realise that."
Growing up being 65% deaf in both ears was a challenge, however.
"Back then they didn't give you any special treatment," she said. "At school they just put you at the bottom."
It was on the sports field that Lynn had a chance to shine. "They saw that I was good at sport, and on the pitch no-one treated you differently."
Lynn moved to Sawbridgeworth from Suffolk a few years after having her daughter, Katrina. She used to box for charity until one day her trainer suggested she try rugby. That was seven years ago. She began training at Harlow Rugby Club, where she took to the sport immediately. A few years later she was introduced to England Deaf.
"When I first started playing for Harlow it took me a while to tell them I was deaf," Lynn said. "I felt I wasn't fitting in or that I was letting them down. I don't feel like that now, but I do think being deaf, we feel like we have to push ourselves a little bit more to prove to them that we can do it."
Lynn trains once a week with Harlow Ladies and once a month with England Deaf in Birmingham.
"The training is exactly the same, but the difference for me with England Deaf is I can really focus on the game instead of having to really look at someone's face to see what they're saying," says Lynn.
"In regular rugby people shout instructions to each other, but we can't hear those – even if sometimes people forget and think we should. If there's a whistle, I might hear something but I won't know if it's coming from left or right."
In April 2018, Lynn was part of the England ladies team that won the first ever World Deaf 7s tournament in Australia (the men's squad came second). She had just lost Helen, her partner of 17 years, and her mother and stepfather.
"I went on the pitch crying," she said. "This time I'm going on the pitch and giving it 110%. I want Helen to be proud of me."
The South Africa tournament is taking place on May 1-13 in 2020. Lynn will be part of a team that includes teenager Jodie Ounsley, who also plays for England women's under-18s.
"This game is making history," said Steph. "Starting to make games like this happen will continue to raise awareness of being deaf/hard of hearing and will continue to push for inclusion on and off the pitch."
For Lynn, it is more than just a sporting competition. "I want to show that deaf people can play great rugby too."
Lynn is happy to talk to schools and youth groups about the challenges of being deaf. She can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Her fundraising page is https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/lynn-bryant-2019.