There are thought to be around 15.2 million people in the UK who volunteer once a month which is staggering, but it’s only when you tot up their value that you realise just how essential they are to the success and sometimes survival of many organisations; the DWP and the Cabinet Office recently estimated that the wellbeing value to frequent formal volunteers is around £70 billion per year!

So when I found I had no eggs this past week to make a lemon drizzle cake, I didn’t hesitate going down to the Uplyme garage stores at 7am to buy the missing ingredient, because this week we had our monthly get-together for the Marine Theatre volunteers and a slice of homemade cake is the least I can do to say ‘thank you’ for everything they do.

Our monthly meeting gives everyone the opportunity to exchange ideas and news and also for the volunteers themselves to meet other vols with whom they may never cross paths. Our vols have such diverse backgrounds and skill sets so with the wide range of productions at the theatre as well as help needed in maintaining our beautiful old building, some of them may never meet.

But it wasn’t just our own volunteers who were in residence this past week; the Lyme Regis Museum who are due to reopen their doors this summer, were also there albeit for a full day of official training and as ever, the Marine Theatre leant itself perfectly to yet another modus operandi with a classroom set up. Sitting in my office catching snippets of the workshops, there were some interesting discussions and very good advice being given about meeting customer expectations.

Gone are the days when volunteers were a background addition, they are now ambassadors who need customer service, sales skills and public relations to name but a few!

Then in amongst these heroes and heroines we had the ‘Monmouth Rebellion’ preparations with the stage set arriving in pieces ready to be constructed and made to fit the stage space. It’s a huge bare wooden structure and I will be intrigued to see what it eventually looks like and how it will be used. But then the entire production is more than just a little intriguing, particularly as the director, Clemmie Reynolds, plans to start the play in the exact location the Duke of Monmouth landed in Lyme Regis; Monmouth Beach. They had a ‘location’ rehearsal on Thursday night and the gods were obviously smiling on them because after a day of rain, the clouds cleared and a spectacular sunset appeared. The logistics of this community play are not only ambitious but they will give this extraordinary production a unique and completely novel edge. You can read about it here

We also had our regular weekly session with Slimming World then on Friday night it was back to the 1960s with The Zoots and to say it was a success would be an understatement. Our tech support set up the auditorium so there were enough chairs for people to sit whilst leaving enough room for people to dance. Yet another big advantage of having our style of seating is that we can accommodate any format. But it wasn’t long before everyone was up and dancing, the atmosphere was pumping to the sound of great music and complete audience delight. What a fantastic night!

But there is no rest for this incredible theatre and sometime between midnight last night and this morning, our tech support prepared the theatre for a private party and later in the weekend, a family film

So a BIG thank you not just to our volunteers, but to everyone who gives up their time to oil the wheels and keep them turning and I’ll make sure I always have eggs in fridge!

To the heroes & heroines who keep the cogs oiled and the wheels turning
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