Jenny Lynch was a charismatic introvert, an intellectual who read everything – before, during and after her English literature degree at Newnham College, Cambridge. She embraced drama in her time there, and went on to study acting as a post-graduate at the London Drama Studio in 1987. Dan Milne, an actor and a director, was a contemporary at Cambridge who followed Jenny to the Drama Studio.
“What I saw was such an assured presence, a graceful, honest and unshowy performer. Whatever the merits of the piece she was in, Jenny would always come out of it looking great with her beautiful, simple truthfulness.”
Her subsequent career as an actress was a successful one, with seasons at the Chichester Festival Theatre, Birmingham Rep, London’s Soho Theatre, tours of USA, as well as numerous TV roles in popular series for the BBC and ITV.
The product of Irish catholic parents with a strong work ethic, Jenny found periods ‘between jobs’ a frustration that she never adapted to. She constantly sought diversifications and intellectual stimulus. In one such period, she researched and wrote a series of lateral thinking, quiz and word puzzle books which, even now, nearly 20 years on, continue to hit the gift shops every Christmas. But that was to pay the rent. In truth, she always preferred to read books than write them.
Daniel Goleman’s bestselling books on emotional intelligence were on the reading list in the mid 90’s, and a curiosity for exploring human behaviour beyond the arts started to intrigue Jenny.
A friend introduced her to the Centre of High Performance Development, a training consultancy assessing and developing key leadership behaviours in organisations. Jenny saw this as an opportunity to diversify more fully, to join the art with the science of human behaviour and she became one of CHPD’s first associate consultants. As a performer, she instantly made sense of behaviour around communication, inspiration and creativity. Here was a natural bridge from the world she had inhabited. Training consultancies like WhatIf!, MaST, CHPD and more, were quick to see that Jenny could also help others make sense of behavioural competency – and not just intellectually. Jenny Lynch could also direct and get these leaders rehearsing the new behaviours, trying them on for size. Ali Gill, a psychologist, triple Olympian and joint CEO of Crelos, worked with Jenny in those early days.
“Jenny was a master at getting the measure of people and I was no exception. When I bemoaned a difficult challenge – she would look me in the eye, don her cheeky smile and say…’should be a breeze for someone like you’. People loved being with Jenny, at work and at play, she didn’t crave being the centre of attention but she often was. Her warmth, wit and wisdom turned many a dull moment into an unforgettable experience. No matter what type of client – banker, lawyer or shop floor supervisor – Jenny was always on my shortlist of ‘those guaranteed to do a great job’. I am lucky to have known, worked with and to have learnt from Jenny – she was one of a kind.”
Jenny married David Lever in 1995. He had independently set up Bi-Jingo, and was beginning to supply actors for conferences, trade shows and training events. Jenny’s knowledge and vision on how to best train and use the actors in these events, transformed Bi-Jingo into one of the leading drama-based training companies in the world. They didn’t set out to work together, but despite the pressures, David is clear that the broadening of their partnership was only positive.
“Everyone wanted a piece of our Jen and I got more pieces than anyone. Bi-Jingo was a ‘tabloid’ before Jenny grabbed it. My version entertained, engaged and told a good story. Jenny gave us ‘broadsheet’. With her, we had debate and discussion, more than just an opinion – we had well-founded opinion – we had depth. Together, we could offer options, greater solutions. We still have all that. She made me get accredited as an assessor of high performance behavioural competencies. She inspired many of our associates to diversify, immerse. She has given us all more than she would ever have known.”
There is now global demand for Bi-Jingo’s ability to create skills-based training events where delegates actually get meaningful feedback and development through purposeful practice in relevant challenging scenarios. Jenny travelled to India, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, New York and across Europe to train teams of actors for training initiatives that she designed. These projects outlive her. They are still running.
Bi-Jingo clients and associates, from all corners of the world, still speak of ‘special’, ‘clever’, ‘brilliant’ Jenny Lynch. Beyond her husband and two children (Lucy and Dan), she leaves behind a special company, with a special group of actors and facilitators who continue the challenge to deliver to her standards.
In her final days, with her brain befuddled, she had a recurring dream where she would find herself on the Olivier stage, at the National Theatre, saying Viola’s first lines from ‘Twelfth Night’.
‘What country, friends, is this?’
The dream delighted her. It is of no surprise, that, even in confusion, but knowing that she would be moving on shortly, Jenny’s response was upbeat, witty and literary.
Bi-Jingo supports Trinity Hospice, Clapham, London SW4, where Jenny was cared for in the final weeks of her life.