Having worn many hats in her five decades of volunteering with the Festival, Eleanor White was named the 2019 Ecclesiastical/Wexford Festival Opera Volunteer of the Year.
The announcement was made by Artistic Director David Agler and John Devitt, Sales Manager at Ecclesiastical Insurance, from the stage of the National Opera House in front of a capacity crowd of Festival volunteers, who attended the first public dress rehearsal of this year’s Festival, Don Quichotte by Jules Massenet.
Eleanor’s association with Wexford Festival Opera began in 1971 when she was a young student in the Loreto Secondary school. Initially selling programmes, Eleanor was overcome with the spirit of the Festival and returned year on year, volunteering in a number of areas including the press office, accommodation and even manager of the opening night ceremony and fireworks on the quay. Eleanor served on the board for many years and now heads up the Festival’s Volunteer sub-committee. Based on her professional experience she has also assisted the organisation to update its existing child safeguarding and volunteering guidelines.
Head of Volunteers, David Maguire, a long-time volunteer himself said, ‘Eleanor’s contribution to the Festival cannot be underestimated. She has had an enormous effect, not just on our patrons, but on the entire community of Wexford. Eleanor has also been instrumental in the development of the Festival as an organisation. She is one of the true gems of the volunteer corp. This award is well deserved.’
Ecclesiastical Insurance, proud sponsor of the award, is Ireland’s leading specialist insurance company serving the education, faith, heritage and charity sectors, providing insurance and services for those who care about their communities and the environment in which they live and work. Ecclesiastical Insurance is a company that donates a significant proportion of its profits to charity, so it is fitting that they are associated with the award.
Speaking on behalf of Ecclesiastical, John Devitt, Sales Manager said, “The very survival of many charitable institutions is dependent on the volunteer sector and the dedicated volunteers at Wexford Opera Festival are no exception to this. Their professionalism is a perfect complement to the world class performances that we witness during every festival. Ecclesiastical is delighted to be associated once again with this award and our particular congratulations go to Eleanor for her invaluable contribution to the Festival.”
The 68th Wexford Festival Opera opens Tuesday, 22 October and runs until Sunday, 3 November. Full details and tickets on www.wexfordopera.com
The 68th Wexford Festival Opera is supported by grants from the Arts Council, Wexford County Council and Fáilte Ireland/Ireland’s Ancient East.