Marsh Volunteer Awards with the Royal Opera House

This Award is run in partnership with the Royal Opera House and recognises the efforts of volunteers who have demonstrated an on-going dedication and commitment to an area of work within the Royal Opera House.

This could be through involvement in education and community work,  learning and development projects, acting as guides or by sharing specialist skills and knowledge to benefit the work of the Royal Opera House.

Six Awards are made to volunteers based at both Covent Garden and the site in Thurrock. Nominations are gathered by the Royal Opera House and judged in partnership with the MCT.

Pictured top: June Bull (2012 winner) assisting at a ROH costume sale

Theresa Qiu, Nuria Blanes, Anne Copeland, Joanne Stone, Philippa Rooke, Nini Aldridge, Sarah Dod, Alan Dod, Nigel Morris 2019

Anne Copeland

Anne can rarely be seen without a smile on her face! Her warm, friendly manner has welcomed many hundreds of children and adults to a tour of High House Production Park. She is always prompt, reliable and willing to support ROH activities, even at short notice, however busy she is. When not supporting tours in Purfleet, Anne can be found chatting to unsuspecting members of the public in Thurrock, inviting them to come and join the ROH Thurrock Community Chorus – with an enormous success rate!

Anne went ‘the extra mile’ and organised for a group of singers from the ROH Thurrock Community Chorus to perform at the Union Chapel in London, as part of a memorial celebration for a much-loved member of the Chorus who had sadly passed away earlier in the year. Her dedication, commitment and organisation skills were greatly appreciated on that occasion as well as many others.

Alan Dod

Alan is a long-standing bass section representative for the ROH Thurrock Community Chorus. Alan takes the lead on communicating with those in his section, ensuring they are happy, confident and well-informed, and that their questions and feedback are heard and responded to. He is also part of a busy committee that liaises with ROH over the running of the Chorus, and his creative and thoughtful input, dedicated support and passion for the project make him a wonderful asset to this committee.

Alan also runs the internal ROH Thurrock Community Chorus social media group, keeping all Chorus members informed with upcoming performances and activities, and providing them with a space to share thoughts and news. Recently Alan has also volunteered to support the team which organises individual singing lessons for members of the ROH Thurrock Community Chorus – an opportunity which is hugely valued by those who take it up.

Sarah Dod

Sarah is a soprano section representative for the ROH Thurrock Community Chorus. This involves taking responsibility for a particularly large group of Chorus members, ensuring they are well informed and communicated with, and that their questions and feedback are heard and responded to. In this role she is also part of the section rep committee, which puts in considerable time ‘behind the scenes’ to ensure the smooth running of the project. Sarah’s tact and diplomacy when it comes to pastoral or sensitive matters is always appreciated, and she is always there with a listening ear when needed.

Sarah has shown particular dedication to supporting ROH Thurrock’s work with refugees and asylum seekers. Her passion and commitment in this area has been a real asset to the project. She has attended training and discussion events on behalf of the Chorus, and been instrumental in leading a Chorus-wide effort to support refugee choir ‘Sing for Freedom’ when their funding was in jeopardy.

Joanne Stone

Joanne is a dedicated volunteer who has been a great help within the Development and Enterprises Department at Covent Garden. In particular, Joanne has made a huge contribution to the Oral History project collecting memories from audience members and supporters, in particular the Baton Associates. Following her Oral History training, Joanne has put her skills to excellent use for this project. She has shown herself to be an outstanding Oral History interviewer who is warm and able to put interviewees at ease.

Nini Aldridge

Nini has a long-standing relationship with the Royal Opera House, previously as a staff member and now as a ROH Volunteer. Her knowledge of the organisation is second to none and she engages with a variety of projects and provides useful feedback. As well as volunteering within the Development and Enterprises Department, Nini also offers her help within other teams across the ROH.

She has been a huge help with the Oral History project, collecting memories from audience members and supporters, in particular the Baton Associates. Her knowledge of the ROH enables her to fully engage with interviewees and she is able to help them to recall memories when they are unsure of some of the finer details. Nini is also a wonderful advocate of the ROH’s Baton Associates, helping them to spread the word about how legacy giving supports the work of the ROH.

Nigel Morris

Nigel volunteers at many of the Open Up events, including nearly all Family Sundays and frequent Crafternoons as well as at Schools’ Matinees. He is always reliable and so helpful, happy to get stuck in and assist with anything that he is needed for. Despite maintaining that he is no good at crafts, he is always great at helping with these activities as he is brilliant at encouraging others to get involved and is kind and reassuring with even the most anxious of participants.

Nuria Blanes

Nuria has such infectious enthusiasm for the work that is done at Open Up, she has been a frequent and reliable volunteer, signing up for as many Family Sundays and Crafternoons as she can. She is always so keen to help and enable others to enjoy the activities. She is incredibly hard working and has a great attitude, coping with even the busiest of activities and encouraging young and old to join in.

Theresa Qiu

Theresa is a dedicated volunteer, previously a student ambassador, she has continued to volunteer at Open Up events and Schools’ Matinees since graduating. She is calm, reliable and conscientious. She is always willing to help with whatever is needed.

Philippa Rooke

Philippa Rooke has only been a volunteer with the ROH Collections for about a year, but in that time, she has made a noticeable contribution. After over 20 years of working at the ROH Philippa decided to return to study for a degree in history. Philippa was then asked to join a project the ROH Collections is running to catalogue and transcribe over 120 diaries written by Frederick Gye, (General Manager of the Royal Italian Opera from 1847 until his death in 1878) and his family. Deposited on loan to the Royal Opera House by current members of the Gye family, Gye’s diaries offer a unique insight into the organisation of a major 19th-century opera house.

Philippa has completed the transcriptions for key years relating in the history of the theatre. These transcriptions enable the ROH to access the diaries more easily and support the learning of audiences, including young people or adults, about the history of the ROH. The information Philippa has produced has already been used to assist academic researchers in the UK and abroad, the media and for public engagement events, with plans to make the diaries accessible through online resources.

Previous Winners

Jenny Stevens, Eileen Shaw, See Stanborough, Denise Ferry, Angela Saville and David St Pier

Jenny Stevens

Performing in locations outside of the Royal Opera House during its refurbishment could have caused audiences a lot of disruption, however the presence of volunteers at the recitals meant that dedicated audience members continued to attend performances and feel valued. Jenny was one of these fantastic volunteers, always reliable and giving her time to more than one recital. As the concerts were free, they not only supported the development of the members of the Jette Parker Young Artists (JPYA) programme, but also enhanced the experience and learning of those who attended them. Jenny also helped to run JPYA recitals at St Clement Danes on the Strand, which involved organising seating, handing out programmes and showing people to their seats.

Eileen Shaw

Eileen helped with a number of JPYA recitals at St Clement Danes on the Strand, the venue chosen while the Crush Room at the Opera House was unavailable during refurbishment. She was very generous with her time, arriving on time at Stage Door to walk over to the venue and preparing seats for the audience. Eileen also handed out programmes to the dedicated audience members at each performance, welcoming them to the space and continuing to develop a strong relationship with them.

See Stanborough

See is a brilliant and unique member of the volunteer scheme at the Royal Opera House. She is extremely positive, keen to be involved in any event and is warm and welcoming to everyone who comes through the door. See is also extremely supportive and gives a generous amount of her time to the Learning and Participation team. Over the 2017/2018 season, she has supported multiple Schools’ Matinees and Welcome Performances, as well as being involved with the Paul Hamlyn Christmas treat.

Denise Ferry

Denise is extremely dedicated to the Royal Opera House’s work in Thurrock, volunteering regularly to support the tours of High House Production Park. She is reliable, punctual and efficient, and is often the first to arrive and the last to leave. She has welcomed hundreds of visitors to the Purfleet site over the last season alone, always with her characteristic friendly and welcoming manner. Her unflappable approach to problem-solving makes her an extremely valuable asset to the team and staff can be sure that things will run smoothly around her.

Angela Saville

Angela regularly supports the Royal Opera House’s tours of High House Production Park in Purfleet, in which capacity she has welcomed hundreds of visitors in the 2017-2018 season, always armed with a big smile and a wealth of knowledge about the site and the work of the Royal Opera House. She is always early and well prepared and can be relied upon to deal with any situation that arises in her usual calm and practical way. Angela is also a member of the ROH Thurrock Community Chorus and goes out of her way to pick up the Assistant Musical Director for rehearsals each week.

David St Pier

David has been a member of the ROH Thurrock Community Chorus for many years and during that time as made himself indispensable to the ensemble through coordinating the Chorus’ online resources. Using his considerable technical expertise, he has single-handedly established simple and usable systems for every Chorus member to access practice track recordings of all the pieces they are learning, and David supports them on an individual basis should they need it. More recently, David has supported the ROH to tackle the challenges of GDPR, with his characteristically pragmatic and positive approach. He is truly an unsung hero, contributing hours of his time to help his fellow Chorus members to learn and perform at their best.

Alistair Guthrie, Anne Sinstadt, Maureen Viggiani, Katherine Doige, Lorna Jones and Jane Yeowell

Alistair Guthrie

Alistair Guthrie has been a volunteer for Monday Moves, a weekly dance class for blind and partially sighted adults at the Royal Opera House, for 9 years. He assists the participants by getting them to and from the studio and changing room and ensures that the space is set up ready for the class, meaning that there are no obstacles and the room layout is the same each week. Alistair has, on occasion, even had to take care of over-zealous guide dogs and calms them down, thus preventing any disturbance to the class. He also actively participates in the class as a dancer and sighted assistant, working creatively with the participants to bring out their potential and enhance their experience. The group trust and confide in Alistair and he is able to pass on any concerns or issues to staff in a sensitive and considerate way, helping class members to have the best possible experience at the Royal Opera House.

Anne Sinstadt and Maureen Viggiani 

Anne and Maureen are members of a small group of enthusiastic and committed volunteers who helped to ensure the continuation of daytime recitals during Open Up, despite the building work taking place at the Royal Opera House. They helped to set up the external venues, arranged seating for the audience, welcomed audience members, handed out programmes, responded to enquiries from the public and artists, promoted future recitals and were professional and committed representatives of the Royal Opera House. They were heavily involved with free lunchtime recitals and ‘Meet the Young Artists Week’ where they engaged with new audiences and were enthusiastic Ambassadors for the Royal Opera House, all of which was fuelled by genuine personal enthusiasm for the young artists.

Katherine Doige

Katherine is an extremely positive volunteer, always trying to find ways to assist more and ensuring that every project she is involved in is delivered to a high standard, whether that be creating decoration for a time capsule project or handing out resources at an Inspiration Day. She is always warm, welcoming and enthusiastic and is equally at home engaging with young people, teachers, artists, families and members of the public. This season she has supported a diverse range of events as well as supporting office staff with administration matters. Katherine’s creative experience and appreciation for the arts shines through with her volunteering work and she contributes a significant amount of her time to the work of the Royal Opera House Thurrock.

Lorna Jones

Lorna is a friendly and approachable volunteer and a wonderful Ambassador for the Royal Opera House, with a great deal of knowledge to share and a talent for communicating it in an engaging and accessible way. She is reliable and efficient and willing to take on any task. This season Lorna has supported a number of varied events and her positivity, calmness and helpful attitude have made her an invaluable member of the team at all of them, whether she is helping vulnerable young people, members of the public or groups of energetic schoolchildren.

Jane Yeowell

Jane is incredibly dedicated to the Royal Opera House’s work in Thurrock and is always willing to lend a hand at short notice. She is a personable and friendly individual who greets the public with a warm and welcoming smile and is more than happy to answer any questions they may have. On the day of an event, Jane is often the first to arrive and the last to leave and her energy never flags, even on busy Inspiration Days or when welcoming hundreds of children and young people to the site. She has contributed a significant amount of time to the work of the Royal Opera House Thurrock in the last season and continues to show her devotion to the programme.

Elizabeth Lubienska, Tom Tillery, Sally Gregory-Smith, Lynda Viccars, Chris Walker, Guy Bloom 

Elizabeth Lubienska
Elizabeth has volunteered in the Development and Enterprises Department for two years. She is responsible for checking mailing data and is meticulous when updating the database, so that the Royal Opera House is able to maintain their professional image when writing to people. She is very flexible in her role and is happy to help with other important tasks as and when she is required to do so, including taking on leadership roles.

Tom Tillery
Tom has volunteered in the Collections team one day a week since 2009, helping to support the department’s projects and to strengthen their relationships with audience members. He adds new programmes to the Programme Collection every week, making sure the performance details are correct and accurate. Tom has a vast knowledge of the history of the ROH, having worked in the Music Library for many years, so he can be relied upon to answer an obscure query.

Sally Gregory-Smith
Sally is a volunteer at the ROH’s Schools Matinees and Welcome Performance events playing a pivotal, ambassadorial role in providing a friendly and approachable demeanour for younger audiences. She is also a mentor for new volunteers and the shares her accumulated corporate knowledge with less experienced peers to ensure the projects run smoothly. During the 2015-2016 season, Sally volunteered on nearly every Welcome Performance and half of the matinee performances, assisting with many front of house activities and workshops.

Lynda Viccars
Lynda began volunteering at the Thurrock site in the autumn of 2014 and has since volunteered at a number of varied events with enthusiasm and a high level of commitment. She is a great advocate of the site’s work and actively speaks to visitors about the work that they do. Whether it be setting up activities or cleaning up afterwards, or showing guests where to go in the rain, Lynda can always be relied upon to lend a hand.

Chris Walker
Chris began volunteering at the Thurrock site in 2015 and is an efficient and capable volunteer, willing to get involved in any task. She has turned her hand to tasks which she isn’t necessarily familiar with and treats them as learning curves for her own life. She enthusiastically volunteers at public tours and Inspiration Days, greeting guests warmly and quickly making sure that they have everything they need.

Guy Bloom
Guy joined the volunteer programme in the summer of 2014 and since then has been a positive, uplifting and very capable volunteer at Thurrock. He is a dedicated and passionate member of the team and always shows enthusiasm for the volunteering work he undertakes. Guy is a regular volunteer on public tours and greets guests in a professional, polite and enthusiastic manner. He also commits his time to distributing leaflets about upcoming ROH events around his home town.

Jeanette Fossey, Eddy Archer, Margaret Hall, Graham Fletcher, Michael Possener, Joan Alcock and Allison Lyneham

Jeanette Fossey
Jeanette brings a huge amount of energy to her volunteering which is especially clear on Inspiration Days and Public Tours, where she ensures participants have the best possible experience. Jeanette is organised, practical and a great community ambassador for the Royal Opera House.

Eddy Archer
Eddy has volunteered for many events and projects for the Royal Opera House Thurrock. He supports Public Tours and Inspiration Days and is always willing to help out wherever support is needed. Eddy supports RM19, the Royal Opera House’s youth singing group and he also helps prepare the room set up and keyboards for every rehearsal for the Royal Opera House Thurrock Community Chorus and many other events.

Margaret Hall

Margaret is incredibly talented at making and mending costumes, and has supported the costume team for Learning and Participation productions for many seasons. Margaret’s knowledge of the High House Production Park and her warm personality helps ensure that all visitors and attendees feel welcomed. She introduced costume mending workshops for volunteers, which have allowed dozens to have the chance to work with costume practitioners and improve their sewing skills.

Graham Fletcher and Michael Possener
Graham and Michael show enormous commitment and dedication to the Learning and Participation Volunteer programme. They present a welcoming face for audiences, and are always willing to help out where necessary. Graham is a regular volunteer for audience engagement projects and events including Schools Matinees and Family Sundays, is a friendly and approachable ambassador for the Royal Opera House and supports creative practitioners to ensure their workshops are delivered to a high standard. Michael is an invaluable member of the team working with Family Sundays and the Schools Matinees programme. He also worked with the Gavron Gold programme, highlighting his commitment to the welfare and wellbeing of the elderly.

Joan Alcock
Joan has volunteered with the Press and Communications team at the Royal Opera House for over five years, providing crucial administrative support. Joan scans through the large volume of press clippings from each production and edits out suitable quotes about artists, productions and departments of the Royal Opera House. Joan is able to work swiftly with large quantities of written material. She works quietly and rigorously whilst maintaining a sense of humour throughout.

Allison Lyneham
For the past year, Allison has volunteered with the Brand and Image Licensing programme, researching, identifying and approaching potential licensees. She also makes sure that catalogue images are available for licensing and identifies and analyses opportunities for licensing them to third parties. Allison has also contributed toward the image cataloguing programme, helping catalogue images of ballet productions ready for licensing.

Jennifer Begley, Nini Aldridge, Ann Aungle, Mattia Cabitza, Arthur Varney, Christine Evans and Nigel Morris

Jennifer Begley

Jennifer has volunteered with a number of projects in the Learning and Participation Department at the Royal Opera House, including the ‘Family Sundays’ project, the ‘Chance to Dance’ programme and the ‘Write an Opera’ project. Her enthusiasm and dedication to the Department has been evident on every project she has worked on. Jennifer is always happy to help, has excellent interpersonal skills and has provided valuable opportunities for young people wanting to progress in the arts.

Nini Aldridge & Ann Aungle
Nini and Ann volunteer with the Royal Opera House Box Office helping to provide quick and efficient service to customers. They have shown particular dedication to their role by regularly supporting the department after their big sale days. Nini and Ann have provided invaluable help with getting thousands of tickets out to Royal Opera House audiences as quickly as possible after priority booking dates for Friends or after general booking dates for a given season.

Mattia Cabitza
Mattia’s range of skills and passion for the art forms of the Royal Opera House has been very valuable to the busy Media Department. He has taken on a whole range of tasks such as audio editing, blog writing, copy writing and carrying out interviews with key artists. His contributions to the department, through his broad range of skills have been invaluable.

Arthur Varney

Arthur has been an active volunteer on a number of events and projects at Thurrock. He is a regular volunteer for Inspiration Day workshops and has shown a great ability to work with young people. He has a real enthusiasm for the projects he works on and his commitment to volunteering is impressive. Arthur has also helped with community events and takes on a number of the ‘hands on’ roles such as repairing and making resources for Learning and Participation projects.

Christine Evans
Christine has made an incredible contribution to the Inspiration Days Public Tours run by the Royal Opera House in Thurrock. She is always incredibly helpful, has a clear passion for providing the best possible experience to the public and is very popular with participants. Christine has also made great contributions to helping out with some of the ‘less glamorous’ tasks such as clearing out old installations and is not afraid to get her hands dirty and get stuck into any work.

Nigel Morris
Besides helping with Public Tours and Inspiration Days at Thurrock, Nigel has taken on a range of marketing and administrative tasks and has shown an excellent approach when communicating with members of the public over the phone. He always shows great interest in his work, a real positive attitude and has made invaluable contributions to the team.

Lloyd Bracey, Mary Roe, Jenny Stevens, See Hoi Stanborough, Mike Ostler and Lesley Robinson

Lloyd Bracey
Lloyd volunteers his time to provide media training for both young artists and senior management groups, including providing one-to-one coaching sessions for senior staff members and group training workshops for Education and Press staff. His training is well received and despite being highly sought after, he continues to offer his services on a voluntary basis to the Royal Opera House.

Mary Roe
Mary is a volunteer on two significant projects at the Royal Opera House. Firstly, she has assisted with building a database including 2,500 names of ballet teachers and schools across the country, allowing the Royal Opera House to extend its work into key communities where there had previously been no contact. Secondly, Mary has helped with cataloguing images and researching and writing captions to build a Royal Opera House Image Library.

Jenny Stevens
Jenny is a volunteer mentor for young people involved in the Royal Opera House’s Creative Jobs Programme, which creates traineeships for young unemployed Londoners who are enthusiastic about a career in the arts. In 2012, she closely mentored eight young people, offering them individual and dedicated careers advice. She is generous with her time and invests her emotions and efforts into making sure the young people succeed. As a result of Jenny’s mentoring, six of the young people she helped have gone on to secure jobs after their placements.

See Hoi Stanborough
See volunteers with the Education department at the Royal Opera House, helping to deliver a number of projects across the years. She welcomes schoolchildren and families at events, handing out programmes and providing Front of House support. See also volunteers with the Monday Moves classes and helps with administrative duties in the Education Office, always conveying a proactive and positive attitude.

Mike Ostler
Mike supports a range of work through his volunteering role at the Royal Opera House Thurrock. He is extremely knowledgeable about the High House Production Park site and is always happy to share his knowledge with Public Tour groups. Mike is a dedicated member of the Royal Opera House Thurrock Community Chorus and has contributed a great deal to rehearsals and performances, showing a real dedication to his role.

Lesley Robinson
Lesley supports the Education Tours at the Royal Opera House Thurrock and her calm and smiling presences is an invaluable asset to the team on these busy days. She also assists with the running of the Public Tours at the site and works on projects which involve families and members of the community who are hard to reach, including the ‘Sounding Out’ project where hard to reach families in Thurrock by offering a series of hands-on workshops.

June Bull

June has been involved with the Royal Opera House Thurrock Education programme since 2007 and fully supports everything that the department does. She helps to make props and costumes, has sung and performed with them and has been a steward at a number of events. She has a fantastic attitude and is more than happy to do anything that is asked of her.

June is encouraging to participants, supportive to staff and practitioners and a cheerful presence for everyone she comes in to contact with. She gives her time to support the education tours, the schools workshops, the onsite events and the costume and prop making community workshops. She passionately believes in the work of the education department and has been a wonderful ambassador for them and their work within the local community.

Margaret Drummond and Alistair Guthrie

Margaret Drummond
Margaret has volunteered with the Royal Opera House since the early 1990s when she was a student, quickly becoming part of an established helping at a variety of different education events, including family days, adult study days (pre-Insight programme), and helping with mailing the ROH education magazine to Teachers three times per year. She has now been a volunteer for almost 20 years, continuing to help out both at events but also administratively in the office.

Alistair Guthrie
Alistair has been volunteering with the Education Department for about 6 years and has demonstrated incredible dedication to a wide range of work within the programme. He attends many Education events and for the last 3 years has been a volunteer for Monday Moves, a project that provides weekly dance classes for blind and partially sighted adults.

Chris Davies, Helen MacGregor and Tony Dobson

Chris Davies

Chris has been volunteering with the Royal Opera House since 2003 when she contacted them to see if they would be able to introduce the ‘Write an Opera’ project in Kent. Under her guidance, the Royal Opera House Creative Teachers course was developed, involving 144 teachers from 72 schools. As a result of this course, a number of operas were created which in turn had a significant impact on schools in Kent, particularly those with little existing musical provision.

Helen MacGregor
Helen was introduced to the Royal Opera House Education through the Creative Teachers course, supporting many teachers through the process and being instrumental in the success of many projects. She then went on to develop the Voices of the Future project, working with 48 Lead Music Teachers to devise a 6 Day inset programme which had a lasting impact on singing in Kent schools.

Tony Dobson
Tony has done outstanding work with the Royal Opera House Education project in Thurrock. He is a real ‘can-do’ individual and understands the opportunities that the Royal Opera House presence in Thurrock offers to the local college, its students, the local community and the wider area. His behind the scenes contributions to all aspects of the project have been essential in the continuation and success in Thurrock.