Before I started volunteering, I was an aimless university graduate who had made no real attempt to discover what career path could be right for me (a position I know quite a few others can relate to…) Wanting to try anything and everything, and in the hopes of becoming inspired, I signed up to volunteer for every organisation I could find. I helped at food festivals, charity shops, literature events and more. As you can imagine, I have some unforgettable stories from those times…
However, the lightbulb moment I was looking for came from volunteering at the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester in 2019. As I signed up to volunteer, and as was characteristic of me at the time, I agreed to take on everything that was on offer. I did some ushering, event managing, admin tasks, festival site help, and artist liaison, all within beautiful buildings that I would never have otherwise visited. By the end of my time volunteering, I had become fully enamoured with music festivals and with Three Choirs specifically. If you saw a small blonde lady running around the festival site that year, normally with an ice cream in one hand and bits of signage in the other – that was me!
Almost entirely down to my volunteering experience, I graduated into my full-time role with Three Choirs later that year. My experiences volunteering have stayed with me as some of the happiest times I have had with the festival. Firstly, I was able to hear some of the most outstanding musical performances I’ve ever heard. Not coming from a musical background, I had never experienced live music of such an exceptional quality before and being able to hear it for free by volunteering made me feel lucky.
Personally though, the aspect of the festival that really made it special was being able to connect with everyone else involved as one big community. Obviously, all the volunteers get to meet each other during the festival, sharing festival stories and forming friendships. But this community also extends to all the staff team, the performers, and venue teams. The sense of unity and friendship that everyone feels during the festival brings it to life, and the volunteers are at the heart of this.
My favourite part of my job now is interacting with the volunteer team, some of whom have been helping Three Choirs devotedly for years. I had the pleasure of meeting many of them during my time as a fellow volunteer in 2019, and I feel lucky to be able to know them. I count down the months towards reuniting with these volunteers every summer.
Some volunteers are newer to the experience and are nervous about whether or not it is right for them. All I can do is tell them what I was told by my predecessor about the Three Choirs attitude to volunteering – that you need no previous knowledge of the festival, that you can give as much or as little time as you want, that you can do tasks in whatever area that suits you – and hope that you have a wonderful time. That hope has never yet been in vain.
Volunteering is one of the most worthwhile things you can do with your time, and it can even be life changing – it genuinely got me where I am today.
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