Local Face: Debbie Hekkink

Debbie Hekkink came to live in Wendover 10 years ago when her husband’s job moved to Hemel Hempstead and they didn’t want him to have a long commute. They moved down from the Midlands where most of Debbie’s family live, but Jurgen had left his family behind in the Netherlands.
Jurgen and Debbie met whilst back-packing in Australia. They got engaged and then married on their return. They first lived in Berlin for 4 years where Debbie was able to teach in a British military primary school and then at the Berlin British School when the military moved out. During their 3 years in the Netherlands, she also taught part-time in 2 international schools, in Rotterdam and The Hague.
They moved to the UK in April 2000 because it was difficult living in the Netherlands for Debbie with small children and no supportive network. They also didn’t want the children to start school in the Netherlands and then have to move to a different system in the UK. They had both grown up in small towns and wanted that environment for their own children. Jurgen was able to transfer to the UK with the company he was working for. Debbie and Jurgen fell in love with Wendover when they first visited. It’s such a pretty village tucked into the Chiltern hillside. They hoped to be moving into a welcoming community for the sake of their children, too – and so it proved
Their first home was on Halton Camp so their children attended Halton Community Combined School. They witnessed first-hand its transformation from a school in special measures to an outstanding school under the leadership of Su Scrimshaw. Their children thrived there and loved the fact that they knew everyone because it was so small.
Wendover and Halton have provided them with what they needed as a family e.g. good schools, church, community, pubs and eating places, local shops and post-office. They are happy to drive out to larger shops and recreational activities.
It took a while to feel settled. They started to feel more a part of the community when they got more involved with life at St Mary’s Church and in the community. Both Debbie and Jurgen helped out with Junior Church and the Youth group. Debbie also volunteered in @stmary’s Fairtrade shop and worked for a while in the church office while the children were in primary school. Debbie still volunteers for a monthly slot in the shop on a Saturday, which she thoroughly enjoys.
Jurgen was also a governor at Halton School and Debbie supported the PTA. Once all three children were in Secondary School and Debbie had more time on her hands she wanted to do something more with her life. She saw an advert asking for volunteers in the local Children Centre run by Barnardos. She volunteered there for 18 months which then led to being offered a job. She now works 3 days a week in a Barnardos Children’s Centre in High Wycombe.
Debbie thinks that it took a good 4 years to feel settled and probably another 3 to feel embedded in Wendover, including moving to Grenville Avenue in 2009 into a house that was big enough for their growing family and a dog too. She has discovered in her moves around the world that you have to make the effort to get involved and then be patient while you and your new community get to know each other, before you feel you are at home in a place.
Wendover Community was very supportive when Debbie first discovered a course at Ripon College, Cuddesdon. She completed a certificate in exploring Theology and Ministry, which gave her the opportunity to study more about the Christian Faith. She was kindly given a grant for books by the Lionel Abel-Smith Trust Fund. St Mary’s church also supported her with some of the cost of the three year part-time course.
This course has equipped her for her latest adventure: she has recently started as a volunteer lay chaplain in Wendover Junior School.This year she will be running a lunch-time club on a Monday, in which she aims to offer children a time to chill, chat and create. She provides games, books, a craft activity and the opportunity to talk.
She is also supporting Becky Murgatroyd, Wendover’s youth worker in running a self-esteem course at the John Colet School. Debbie can relate to not having much self-esteem while at school and is excited about the opportunity to support young people in this way.
Debbie and Jurgen have made a lot of really good friends in Wendover, and have found it to be a great place for raising their family.