You may not be aware that there is a small army of people who support ENO – both in the theatre and behind the scenes in our offices. We really couldn’t do without our faithful volunteers.They are not only loyal ENO Friends and Patrons but amazing ambassadors for the company who have become dear friends and colleagues over the years. We are grateful for all the time and energy they give.
From stuffing envelopes to staffing the Friends Desk at performances, no task is too big or too small for our volunteers.
Here we introduce you to some of them. Next time you’re at the Coliseum for an ENO show why not stop by Friends Desk and say hello!
I first volunteered to help the Baylis team, after witnessing a fantastic event they put on in a school. Then one day, at a Friends’ event, Katherine Sayer asked the woman sitting next to me whether she could help with a mailshot, and I surprised myself by volunteering to help in future. So now I go into the Development Office – nothing regular, just responding when I can to requests for help with particular tasks. It is a very friendly office, and my stints there have helped me better understand the work of a company I admire, while cementing friendships with a number of other volunteers.
I have been a volunteer since 2013. I joined because of my love of opera and my long held belief that opera should be intelligible, non-stuffy and accessible.
I work on the Friends’ desk at performances and also at the office in West Hampstead. I enjoy meeting the audience, welcoming them and talking about the advantages of being a Friend. Tourists sometimes ask about the history of the theatre but I do have the opportunity to discuss the operas, particularly when there is a new production.
One amusing moment occurred when a couple mistook the London Coliseum for the Lyceum and believed they were about to see The Lion King, despite the big, gory photo of Medea with blood-stained daggers outside the theatre.
A highlight is seeing prominent people in the music world, including Philip Glass, Jonathan Miller, and Sir Mark Elder, who stopped by the desk and asked me how I was doing.
I started volunteering in 2012. It coincided with my retirement and, having been an ENO Friend since my early 20s, I was happy to help out when I read an article in Inside ENO magazine seeking help. The Friends Team gave a very informative description of what was required and a few days later I was manning the Friends desk at a performance. The Front of House Staff were welcoming, charming and informative. One quickly learnt the lay out of the house and where to obtain large print programmes, parking concessions and where latecomers can sit until a suitable break.
I feel it is essential that one has seen the production as most questions relate either to the performance that night, the interval/curtain up times etc…, or the building’s facilities. Volunteering can also include stuffing envelopes, calling Friends and ex Friends and occasionally chatting to new staff about life as a member of the audience!
It is all great fun and helps a great London institution.
I have been a loyal and enthusiastic supporter of ENO for many years. Firstly as an attendee, then I became involved in various Lilian Baylis Community Choir events some of which have involved chances to work with ENO professionals and participation in public performances at the Coliseum. I decided to become an ENO Friend a couple of years ago to provide regular support and then an ENO Volunteer to broaden my links with ENO. The ENO Friends Team is very friendly and there are a wealth of activities needing the input of volunteers. I have enjoyed the “front of house” ENO Friends desk work as I enjoy meeting people, you have to be prepared to answer a range of questions from casting, seat location, and public facilities through to the work of ENO and the Friends Membership scheme!
We always welcome new volunteers as there is never a shortage of work to be done. If you would like to find out more about volunteering contact [email protected] or 020 7845 9420 or speak to our ENO Volunteers at the Friends Desk.