A retired couple who love the song and dance of the theatre have found the joy in giving back together after embarking on the volunteering programme at Wales Millennium Centre.
Doug and Joy Reed, from Cardiff, loved the theatre so much that they wanted to contribute to the arts. After hearing about volunteering opportunities at the Centre, they joined us on a training programme and now work together in bringing unforgettable experiences to our visitors. Chatting to them, helping them to their seats and making sure they all enjoy the show is just part of the job.
We caught up with Doug and Joy, to find out what they love about spending their free time with us.
Why did you start volunteering?
Doug: We both like theatre, and historically we have gone to London and other cities to see shows. The Bay is a great place, and with all the shows now coming to Cardiff, we regularly come down to the Centre.
Friends of ours mentioned the programme. We were uncertain what it was about initially, so we applied and we came along to first training session for volunteers. Following the 2-day training programme, we thought “When can we start?!” I was the first one of us to start, and saw 2 operas, and then we both did Jane Eyre.
Joy: Born and bred in Cardiff, my sons always joke saying I should be outside with a tourist badge getting people in as I love Cardiff. Being Welsh, I have that pride for Wales and the Bay. It sounds silly, and I love it when the auditorium is full and knowing that they’ll have a good time.
Was the training intensive?
Doug; No, and it was interesting to see the introduction and the importance of Welsh to the Centre. In our introductions to visitors, we should use a little bit of Welsh. We don’t speak it, but we use it to greet them. They really appreciate it, and it’s so important in making everyone feel welcomed.
How much time do you give to the Centre?
Doug: We try to do about 3-4 shows a month. As much as we are able to, really. There’s a web portal, and you just sign up and say which days you are available for, so it’s nice, simple, and easy going.
Is there any show in particular you’re looking forward to working for?
Joy: We like anything. We like going to the theatre, and we like meeting people. We get chatting to people and it’s a great way to socialize while giving back.
Doug: I really enjoyed The Addams Family!
Joy: It was even better the second time around!
Did you know that the Centre is a charity?
Doug: No, I wasn’t aware until I started volunteering. The programme means that they can give back to the community in other ways.
I think everyone think it’s funded by the Welsh Government, and have never really thought about it. I never it gave it any thought before finding out about the programme. It’s a magnificent building, there’s nothing like this in London and it’s wonderful to be involved with it.
What’s been your favourite moment so far?
Doug: I think it has to be The Addams Family. It was amazing, so funny. I also loved Die Fledermaus, it was so funny and not at all what I expected. It introduced me to opera.
Joy: The staff here have been so kind, and they’re bending over backwards to help us, inviting us in for a coffee and chats in the day. The managers have been excellent.
What do you love about theatre?
Doug: I sing a little myself, and as part of a cabaret group I do different gigs. I haven’t acted that much. The arts in general are a big part of our lives. We are both retired now, and it means we can do something together.
Joy: In between 9 grandchildren, they keep us busy!
Doug: We do it together, and we do as much as we like. It’s flexible.
Joy: They send out emails once a fortnight, and we can book in to ones we want to do.
Doug: I’m looking forward to doing some of the other kinds of theatre experiences. Such as Live at Ffresh, there’s such a variety of acts.
Here at Wales Millennium Centre, we’re always trying to improve the lives of others in local communities, while showcasing the best musicals, plays and live music. With all the glitzy shows and entertainment, it can be easy to forget that the organization is a charity, along with many other arts institutions.
It’s no easy feat, and we rely on the help of our volunteers to support us as we continue on our mission to inspire our nation and impress the world. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to deliver unforgettable experiences to our visitors, as they are instrumental in helping us keep the public happy, welcomed and safe.
Each year the centre puts on free family activities and provides workshops, training programmes and performances to increase access to the arts and raise the aspiration of every young person in Wales.