Jenny speaks out after overcoming stammer

PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS       'Jenny Hobbiss at home in Heath Charnock, Chorley
PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS 'Jenny Hobbiss at home in Heath Charnock, Chorley
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A Chorley teen who spent years struggling to speak now wants to shout from the roof tops after beating her stammer.

Jenny Hobbiss, 19, from Heath Charnock, had to deal with the speech impediment for years, but after travelling abroad and working with youngsters, she’s now determined to put the hindrance behind her.

She said: “It was pretty horrible to cope with before, and I felt a massive sense of shame because of it.

“It was so embarrassing at times. I would go to restaurants and attempt to order what I wanted, but I just couldn’t get the words out.

“I’d picture the sentence in my head and it was so frustrating not to be able to say what I wanted, so I’d end up ordering something else.

“It just felt as though my right to free speech had been taken away.”

Jenny has suffered from the stammer for as long as she can remember, and said it held her back at school.

She was head girl at a boarding school in York, and would dread having to make speeches in front of her classmates during assembly.

But after deciding to visit schools in Fiji, her confidence soared and she embarked on a life-changing pledge to overcome her problems.

“I spent five months in Fiji after leaving school,” she said. “And I saw what I was capable of, teaching children and inspiring them, and in turn, it really motivated me to face my fears.

“I wanted to see what I could achieve if I didn’t have a stammer.”

Jenny signed up to a self-help course called the McGuire Programme in June, which taught her breathing techniques, and also tackled the mental issues associated with stutters and stammers.

“It was terrifying at first,” she said. “I had to sit in front of a camera and talk, which was my worst nightmare, but it was great to meet people who have been through the same struggles as I have.”

Jenny also learnt to accept her condition, and one task proved particularly affective.

“I had to speak to 100 people in town,” she said. “Just approaching them for directions or the time, and that really helped.

“That gave me the confidence to stand up in a cafe in front of about 80 people.

“I explained that I was recovering from a stammer, and that I just wanted to see if I could introduce myself.

“I was so proud of that, and everyone gave me a round of applause.

“People came up to me afterwards saying it was really brave of me.”

She added: “I realised that by hiding the issue, as I had done for so many years, I was just making things worse.”

Jenny’s speech has improved so much, she’s now taking on a new challenge, and is going to university to study Anthropology and International Relations.

“That would have been unrealistic for me before,” she said. “University involves a lot of public speaking and interviews, but I’m ready for that now, and can’t wait to get started.”

For more information about recovering from a stammer or stutter, visit www.mcguireprogramme.com