As the award-winning New Theatre Royal Lincoln celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, the spotlight is being placed on the real stars - its volunteers.
With more than 40 volunteers, ranging between 18 and 65 years of age, committed members of the public have been supporting the theatre for more than two decades; working front of house as ushers welcoming visitors into the theatre and into the auditorium, and selling programmes and ice cream.
The iconic theatre, which was built in 1893, was taken on by Natalie and Mike Hayes-Cowley almost two years ago.
The new management has breathed new life into the venue, undertaking significant and sympathetic improvement works, as well as securing nationally acclaimed acts.
With visitor numbers increasing, Natalie says it couldn’t be done without the army of loyal volunteers.
Natalie said: “Our wonderful volunteers are the lifeblood of the theatre and we simply could not operate without them.
“As we don’t receive any external funding, we have a limited staff of only 12, which means we need extra help to put on the shows and ensure everyone who visits the theatre has a fantastic time.
“Every single volunteer works really hard, and always has a smile on their face.
“Myself and the whole team are so grateful for their time and energy.
“As a theatre, we want to offer the best training possible for all our volunteers with World Host, Customer Care and First Aid courses making sure they are best prepared to look after our visitors.
“The theatre is an important Lincoln venue, and one we are committed to protecting and championing.
“It’s fantastic the theatre has welcomed volunteers for over 20 years now – we truly appreciate all their efforts in helping us to put on brilliant shows week after week.”
One of the theatre’s longest standing volunteers is Lesley Headley, who has volunteered for around 20 years.
Lesley said: “I absolutely love working at the theatre and I have so many fantastic memories from my time spent there.
“Some of my highlights have been meeting Charlton Heston, David McCallum and the fantastic casts of the shows we have welcomed over the years.
“There’s also nothing quite like seeing visitors leaving the theatre grinning from ear to ear and thanking you for a fantastic time.
“One of my fondest memories was being thanked by a parent for helping her son with special needs thoroughly enjoy his first outing to the theatre; to see his huge smile when he came out was just the best.”
Carolyn Wilkinson, who has also volunteered at the theatre for 20 years, added: “The selflessness off the volunteers in keeping this fine old theatre going is something that rubs off on each of us who sign up to as much or as little as our circumstances allow.”
As the theatre becomes busier – having gone from 40 shows a year to 120 in the last 24 months - it continues to look for further volunteers.
To find out more about volunteering, contact the box office on 01522 519999