GUEST BLOG: what it means to me…to be a volunteer

Barry Stewart Hunter is one of a growing number of volunteers at Ally Pally. In this blog he explains his role and inspiration:

It’s big and bold. In some people’s eyes it’s not exactly beautiful, but that’s okay with me. Alexandra Palace means many different things to many different people, but I don’t think I could live in north London without its open spaces on my doorstep. As a writer, I often need a place to kick a mental football around.

I came to volunteering via Friends of Alexandra Palace Theatre. It’s been a pleasure to watch the redevelopment project come to fruition ‘from the inside’. With its legacy of arrested decay, the reopened theatre has a unique physical presence which unites performers, audiences, staff and volunteers in a shared experience.

Being a theatre volunteer means ensuring every guest has the best possible time. There’s something about not being paid to discharge this simple enough task that makes it a bit special. I can’t explain why. That’s just the way it is.

Of course, volunteering is about more than the new theatre, and I really enjoyed helping out at the Biblio Buzz event. Designed to encourage reading, the annual event where students take part in a competition to identify the most popular story from a short list of authors.

I also help out at the Wellness Café. These monthly sessions bring senior citizens together for a cuppa and to take part in creative activities. Sometimes they have a forensic recollection of things that happened a long time ago and you can see these memories put a sparkle in their eye.

But, for me, the theatre is at the heart of the volunteering experience at Ally Pally. Just being inside the auditorium, together with a merry band of fellow volunteers, is a good thing to be doing. Part of our ethos is to ‘be there’, not just for audiences and performers, but for each other too. I like that idea.

Barry is a copywriter and editorial consultant (mostly by day), and a novelist and screenwriter (mostly by night). He lives in Wood Green.

If you would like to volunteer at Ally Pally find our more here